_Organism wrote:@UnwashedMolasses @YoungCanoeist hey I'm in college now and somewhat heavily considering switching my major to something where I think I might actually enjoy the work (I'm in engineering right now and it seems like a drag, to say the least). I'm heavily interested in working with the environment and was thinking you guys could maybe expand on what you do/what your major consists of? (also, what's this DBH tattoo idea?) tyvm sorry if this is a lot to ask!
sorry it took so long to reply!
This was my job site a few days ago after a bad storm swept through Atlanta.
Six pine trees fell on the guys house. You can't see the backyard, where one fully separated his porch from the back of his house and one smashed into his pool. We'll be heading back with a crane to remove that.
This is what it looked like at the end of the day:
And this is some of the wood after we got it off the house and yard:
My degree is a Bachelor's of Science in Forestry and a lot of my education was focused towards production forestry, which involves the management of full stands of forest for whatever goals the client has. Usually those goals are profit based on selling the wood to mills but depending on where you work you can do more with conservation, restoring a more natural forest, optimizing species composition for the promotion of wildlife, all kinds of different stuff.
My job is a little different. I work in arboriculture/urban forestry, so it's less like growing crops and more like performing surgery. Sometimes it's climbing into a tree and cleaning out all of its deadwood, correcting its form, and pruning it to promote advantageous growth. Sometimes it's like it is in the pictures, where a property's been damaged by trees falling during a storm and our job is to haul huge amounts of wood without doing any more damage.
This industry and forestry in general tends to be a boy's club, at least where I am in the south. It's technically skilled manual labor, so you run into the kind of people who are attracted to working hard outside every day. That's one of the huge benefits, by the way - I drive all over Atlanta and get to see the city up close working outside. The production side of forestry's got a bit less of that.
Production forestry will be good for you if you enjoy a lot of biology and a lot of statistics. There's massive amounts of math and planning involved. What is the optimal spacing between tree plantings if you want to promote growth with minimal lateral branching and minimal dieback? When should you thin (remove the underperforming trees)? When do you fertilize? The answers are different based on soil composition, water chemistry and availability, climate, tree species, etc. Statistics are used to simulate growth and optimize returns.
What I do, arboriculture, is better if you like working with your hands. Every day is problem solving. There's a dead branch hanging over the client's roof that'll cause a lot of property damage if it falls. How do you bring it down safely? Equipment plays a huge role. I work every day with a hard hat, safety glasses, and two pairs of gloves. Rubber for handling wood and leather for handling ropes (rope moves fast when it's supporting 200 pounds of wood and the friction it produces will melt through the rubber quick). You learn a lot about ropes, about knots, about carabiners, about chainsaws, about heavy machinery, and mostly about trees. It requires a lot of energy and strength as you're hustling wood around all day. And if you like a challenge and you're not afraid of heights climbing is its own beast. Set your climbing line, use a series of knots and carabiners to attach it to your saddle, and climb up and in. It's dangerous work, so if you're not good with that you won't enjoy it. Your handsaw will go right through that limb and into your leg, and some of the chemicals the blade's been treated with prevent clotting. Chainsaws will kill you. Chippers will REALLY kill you. Falling wood will kill you. Incorrectly tying the knot that attaches your climbing line to your saddle will kill you. Equipment and training go a very long way in making the work safe but it's inherently not safe work. It's so damn fun though,
Sorry for the long answer and for clogging the thread. Hopefully this gives you some impression of the work and of the field. I discovered forestry because I had tried business, advertising, marketing, and journalism, and I had to accept that working at a desk wasn't going to fly. If that's the same dilemma you're having I'd definitely recommend checking it out.
As far as the DBH tattoo: Diameter at Breast Height is a way of standardizing measurement in forestry (diameter at 4.5 feet off the ground). The tattoo idea YoungCanoeist had was to get a horizontal line at 4.5 feet up the body. I use DBH less now that I don't work in production but I may still get it as a reminder of my college days.
Also, in the photos above? The guy who had six pine trees fall on his house? He had a tree twice as big, dead as hell, stay standing.