193+: Millennial Employees and Rural Places: A Millennial’s Thoughts About Increasing Forest Service Recruitment and Retention in Rural Places by Don Radcliffe

Don Radcliffe

This is the third in a series of posts by the original authors summarizing, illustrating, and updating essays from the Steve Willent-edited book 193 Million Acres.

It was the original title of the article. Millennial Workers and Rural Places: Millennial Foresters’ Thoughts on Enhancing Youth Workforce Recruitment and Retention in the National Forest System. Information about the author, Don Radcliffe, can be found at the end of the article.

My paper for 193 Million Hectares explores the Forest Service’s issues with recruiting and retaining talented young workers, particularly in the National Forest System. I was 26 and it was 2017 when I wrote; In the year In 2014 and 2015 I worked as a seasonal silviculture technician for the Forest Service in a small western town, then worked with my family in construction and did a forest policy internship with the American Forestry Association, before going to graduate school for forestry and forest ecology. So the article was based on personal experience with a little literature review. Working with my family’s general contracting business has shown me that companies that treat their employees well often have an overlooked reputation for quality work and greater longevity. My opinion was that the Forest Service was a great place to work for a young person, but there was a lot of room for improvement. When the opportunity arose to write for 193 million acres, I thought of seven tips for recruiting and retaining talented young workers in the Forest Service, which I will list below.

But before outlining recommendations, I’ve explored rural demographic patterns and millennial attitudes in the workplace as some important areas of background context. The gist of the rural demographics section was that most rural areas are becoming the only places for people in their twenties. However, there are a few rural resorts that tend to focus on areas of natural beauty, attracting more young people. These destinations have high housing prices combined with unstable and low-wage seasonal employment. The core of the millennial perspective piece is that many of us millennials want to make a positive impact at work, seek constant growth in our careers, and seek work-life balance. More than previous generations, we change jobs and/or careers if these needs are not met. Often these characteristics are portrayed in a negative way, but I think it is important for economic and survival. We grew up in a time of uncertainty, with drastic changes in the job market and rising costs of living, and learning about various existential threats. If we are not constantly learning new skills, we risk being left behind by automation and/or political restructuring. If we do not make a positive impact in our work, we may not leave much of the world to our future children.

With this rural demographic background and millennial attitudes toward the workplace in mind, I’ve outlined seven tips for improving talent recruitment and retention.
Young workers in the forest service. The tips mostly touch on much broader issues than the narrow context of this blog post, and I’ve kept them very brief here. And all these issues are explored to varying degrees and with varying concentration in other essays in 193 Million Acres. In short, my recommendations were:

Tip 1: Multiply the work and provide more mentors. Many 1039 seasonal workers have a relatively single experience with the Forest Service in one season, and some have more varied experiences. I think that efforts to broaden youth’s current experience will increase their interest in the Forest Service as a whole and improve their chances of returning for a second term and beyond. Foresters should pay more attention to mentoring, which is the main reason why thousands of years determine the quality of their work.
Personally, I’ve been fortunate in my current position and have been able to learn by working in a variety of roles, and that’s a big reason why I decided to return to the same job for a second season.

Tip 2: Advertise effectively
Anyone reading this article has at least heard stories about bad promotions and dead weight employees in government agencies. I don’t have the management experience in the Forest Service to really understand how much of a problem underweight workers are or aren’t, and I’m not sure it’s a real problem as I’ve met many. Very helpful Forest Service staff in various National Forests when I was an employee and graduate student. But when I was up to date, the narrative was that being a good employee didn’t get you promoted in the Forest Service, and being a bad employee was the only way to get rid of your boss. you.’ Clearly, such a narrative is hindering aspiring and talented young workers, and I think the effort to give promotion to those who deserve it will encourage talented young workers for the Forest Service.

Tip 3: Pay people what they’re worth.
Too many times I have seen pay raises blocked by the Forest Service. For example, someone with a college degree should be paid a GS-5 salary, but many people I know were hired out of college at GS-4 and stayed for one, two, even four years. Even high-level forest posts like district silviculturists are often paid two GSS levels less than they should be. Keeping the pay raise doesn’t make the Forest Service a strange place for talented young people who have the skills to work elsewhere.

Tip 4: Hire more people

The main theme of my article is that rural areas are often lonely for young people. A seasonal community in a small Forest Service town can provide much of the social life for a college dropout. More seasons and younger regulars mean a richer community and more reasons to watch. Generally, more open jobs can reduce the need to move frequently to climb the ladder, thus adding stability to the Forest Service lifestyle. Additionally, having more workers increases the talent pool available to the forest service.

Recommendation 5: Make rural districts better places for young people
Small towns with high youth populations have a couple of common characteristics: proximity to landscape ‘natural amenities’, topographic diversity, water, large
Forested regions, and/or favorable climate, and access to recreation. For the most part, natural resources are fixed assets, and some places have more of them than others. But by working with existing natural services, Forest Service districts can create recreational opportunities that give people of all ages more reasons to move to the city and stick with it. I’m not saying that developing entertainment is a magic bullet: rural communication, cultural clashes and population turnover can lead to popular issues. But from what I’ve seen in the literature and in the various places I’ve lived, developing entertainment is the only option for attracting and retaining young people with college degrees in productivity-focused cities.

Recommendation 6: Hire (and retain) a diverse workforce

The United States is increasingly diverse in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and other identities, and the Forest Service cannot adequately serve this diverse constituency without hiring, retaining, and ensuring inclusion of a diverse workforce. In the agency. In addition, more and more young people prioritize self-development and social equality in communities and occupations where they are surrounded by diverse identities and perspectives. The Forest Service has made strides in increasing diversity and inclusion within the agency, but there is still a widespread perception and reality that the Forest Service is run by heterosexual white males. If the agency does not improve its reputation on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, it will not do well in recruiting and retaining young workers.

Recommendation 7: Promote forestry and encourage general publicationsc
I think this is my most important tip in my post. From the day I decided to get involved in forestry, I was fielding questions like: ‘So, do you want to be a park ranger?’ Often people I meet either have no idea what a forest is and go straight to one end or the other, ‘loggers vs. It was their experience in the jungle. Many times I’ve tried to explain forestry to a friend or loved one, and they end up coming back to the dichotomy. When I was in graduate school, a lot of people told me to call myself a forest ecologist, not a silviculturist or a forester, because I would get more grant money. For decades, college departments, like the University of Washington department, have been moving away from using the word ‘forest’ in their names. Careers are part of our identity in our culture, and the forestry community is losing talented young people and the money to hire them due to a lack of positive public perception of forestry. I think what we lack is inspiration; I’ve never seen so many people successfully communicate what an inspiring job we have, working to balance so many critical societal needs at once. If we can do a better job of promoting forestry, I think it will go a long way toward improving the Forest Service’s ability to recruit and retain young people.

In the year Changes in my opinion since I wrote the essay in 2017

I haven’t changed much in my opinion since I wrote the original essay, but some things may be out of date. My finger is less on Forest Service issues than it was in 2017. That’s when my time with the Forest Service and the American Forestry Association became fresher and more relevant. Additionally, much of my experience and research has been relevant to the millennial generation of which I am a part, but Generation Z is even more relevant to discussions about young workers. When I looked, there was little published research on Gen Z in the workplace, and I haven’t had time to check the published literature since. My guess is that Gen Z has the same views on the workplace as Millennials, and it might be more important for the Forest Service to pay attention to their needs and offer my advice on hiring and retaining Gen Z employees, but I don’t. You have a lot of strong evidence to support this.

After seeing mobility patterns change somewhat during the pandemic when telecommuting displaced some workers, I now have some hope for the ability of small towns to attract and retain young people. It is clear that there are some young people who live in big cities for economic reasons, while lifestyle choices may lead them to rural areas. I haven’t had time to delve into the dynamics of the epidemic, but the fact that some young people are moving out of the cities when they are given the economic opportunity gives hope that small Forest Service towns can attract and retain talented young communities. Employees, if the Forest Service can provide a quality workplace.

About the author
Don Radcliffe is a doctoral candidate in Brian Harvey’s lab at the University of Washington, studying fuel cell longevity and circulation. He previously worked as a forestry technician and firefighter for the Forest Service in Montana, a forest policy intern for the American Forestry Association in Washington, DC, and as a project manager with his parent’s construction company in Wisconsin. He has a BS in Forest Science and Life Sciences Communication from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MS in Environment and Natural Resources from The Ohio State University, where he studied mesosification in oak forests. He is also on Twitter. over here.

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