What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
My Job includes many tasks and responsibilities but mainly it is to provide a free independent advisory service to private land owners on all aspects for afforestation and forest management.
This involves visiting individual forest owners or those interested in planting, organising regional events/meetings on all aspects of forestry and providing a service to general agricultural advisers in relation to their clients who have forestry queries.
I also interact with lots of other organisations in relation to forestry development; The Department of Agriculture, Forest Owner groups, Local Development Companies etc.
Describe a typical day?
There is not really a ‘typical days’ but most days are a combination of some of the following: discussing forestry with landowners by phone/email, planning and promoting upcoming events; writing press articles on forestry, meeting with outside organisations re forestry development/promotion, presenting forestry to Agricultural students and hopefully visiting some forest sites.
What are the main challenges?
With a combination of so many roles; making a meaningful impact with each is sometimes a challenge.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
As a forester within Teagasc it is important to have a good knowledge of general agriculture and how to communicate effectively with farmers. I think my farming background and experience with Teagasc to date helps with this communication.
It’s an exciting time to be involved with private forestry. There is a huge job of work to be done in building a knowledge base and culture of forest management in the private sector which I hope to be part of.
What's not so cool?
It is sometimes disheartening to come across forest owners who have very little engagement in their forest, many of whom have little knowledge of their forest crop or its management.
Organising an evening forest walk that very few have turned up for as its bucketing down rain is also not so cool!!
How did you go about getting your current job?
Having completed by degree in Ag Science (forestry) and subsequently a Masters, I went on to work on the Tree Register of Ireland with the Tree council of Ireland. There were a few vacancies with forestry companies at the time but I was attracted to the role in Teagasc as I always had an interest in general agriculture also
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Choosing to study forestry in the first place was a ‘career decision’ milestone as I had no previous experience of forestry.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
My farming/outdoor upbringing definitely encouraged me to choose forestry as a career direction.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
Teagasc facilitates a good work/life balance allowing me to work 4 days per week with Teagasc and the rest ferrying around my 2 boys!
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Biology was the only Science subject I chose but I did enjoy it and along with Geography probably did influence the direction I took.
What is your education to date?
My initial education was growing up on a mixed farm where an appreciation of all things ‘out doors’ was encouraged. This sparked a long term general interest in Science subjects which steered me towards Agricultural Science for third level; completing a B.Agr.Sc. (Forestry) and subsequently a Masters based on timber measurement.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
While the forestry degree equipped me with the fundamentals of forestry it is the more applied learning that I remember most and which I think has stood to me; tree identification, putting together a forest management plan, learning IT skills, work experience with Coillte and Finland and the combination of competencies required to carry out a research masters; writing skills, data analysis, timber measurement and time management.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I am at present completing a Diploma in Leadership Management with the IMI.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
Many landowners contact us during a time of change in their lives; maybe they have inherited land, or had a recent bereavement or maybe they want to take a different direction on their lives. It’s very rewarding when someone tells you that you’ve really helped them through a difficult decision making process.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
You have to be a ‘people’ person in my role. I think I can empathise with people who are grappling with what to do in relation to land use decisions etc.
What is your dream job?
My job with the Tree council of Ireland was a dream job that I probably didn’t appreciate at the time! – travelling around the country measuring Irelands most historic and ‘remarkable’ trees that were growing at some of the most impressive properties in the country.
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
- Good communicator
- Be able to manage your own time
- Be energetic and flexible!
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
Having a qualification in forestry is not enough –many ‘soft skills’ are essential that can only be developed through experience; communication, facilitation, time management etc. a degree in psychology might be a bonus!
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Anything that requires working with groups of people, facilitation, presenting/teaching.
Forestry Careers Ireland