Author and Photos by Talking Forests
Patrick Shults is the new Southwest Washington Washington State University extension forester based out of Chehalis, WA. Serving Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Lewis, Mason, Skamania, Thurston, and Wahkiakum Counties.
His background is in forestry based non-profits and education. After his undergrad, he fell in love with academia which is why he went to grad school and was ideal for him to work for a university. Being able to work in an extension position especially in SW WA is a no-brainer to him. He is excited to work in this area because he has Mount Rainer and St Helens in his landscape. He has been working in Michigan and says that forestry is a different animal here. He already has a long bucket list of places to see in WA when he is adventuring in his personal time.
He is creating opportunities for new forest owners. He is designing a forest stewardship 101 class to introduce new forest landowners to the WA DNR, conservation districts and consulting foresters in the area with the hopes that this gives them a good feeling that they have resources in the area that will help take care of them.
New landowners meeting older landowners and bridging that gap.
He has been working with the WA Farm Forestry Association. He realized that he would not be teaching the Lewis WA Farm Forestry chapter since they have known the land for over 50 years. “Introduce people to a community of landowners and to professionals that do this as their day job. They are brilliant and warm and welcoming people. They can do more for landowners than I can in some situations.”-Patrick says.
Patrick firmly believes that to grow as a student, find someone that believes in you. Patrick found mentors in lab work, during sample processing for research. They introduced him to research and all the different worlds of forestry. He would have gone into mark timber in the department of forestry if he wasn’t exposed to lab work and it shaped his whole perspective to go into a A-typical forestry career. He would like to help students see that there are other career options in forestry out there. He also will be able to show the community a more inclusive forestry by designing a class series for special forestry topics, like urban forestry, habitat conservation etc... "what we plant now can change the future" and he wants to show that so that people can enjoy it.
Patrick tries to not use scientific jargon so that the public can try to grasp and experience scientific research. It is important to bring this research and the veteran knowledge and the hard science to everyone together. Bringing this to a light where the public can understand it is his goal. Some hikers may not like clearcuts, but the forests here were clearcut by fire long before European settlement and harvesting in this way is just mimicking that natural process. That is proven by science and history. Patrick says “we can have our forest and our trees too!”
Being an Extension forester is about bringing connections together. Patrick understands that you have to catch people’s eye on social media now. It is not just about publishing research it is about promoting it as well. He would like to put out more publications based after studies that will be digital and available to the public online by utilizing his WSU Southwest online library and social media as an outlet to promote the new research and studies. "It is a product of our generation to go electronic," he says.
Check out his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WSUForestrySW/