11 December 2020

The Value of Change

Although my time serving with the Forest Service is not nearly done, I find myself looking to my time after my six month tenure. The agency’s morals have grown on me; my supervisor once told me that the agency values interdependency, and is rarely an agency that asks for help. But this agency is fixated on the future; the purpose of the agency is to serve the land, and its people for future preservation. I now find myself envisioning my own ideas for that future. I picture myself opening the doors that the agency never thought possible.


As any great organization, the Forest Service was built upon groundbreaking ideas. Preservation of natural land was direly needed, and Gifford Pinchot took the lead on the charge. Just as his day needed a visionary’s change, my day needs the same. During my time with the Forest Service, it is clear that tradition is valued. But, agencies like the Hispanic Access Foundation (HAF) aim to bring fresh minds to the agency. They value the unique perspectives of individuals molded by culture, family, resilience—but these minds were also molded by poverty, racism, and prejudice. People like me take the future with a grain of salt. As I stand on the inside of this great institution, I see the fatal flaw that organizations like HAF are working to remedy; the mistaken interchangeability of tradition and outdatedness.

Now don’t get me wrong. Everyday that I report for duty, I see individuals working for the future. My coworker is currently undertaking a certain project that enlists the help of NASA and provides the possibility of reporting fire from satellites. That project is as modernized as you can get. But the Forest Service wishes to maintain the public image it has kept since the days of Smokey the Bear. When I share my duties with outsiders, they are amazed by the work that the Forest Service does. The hold on tradition has failed to keep up with modern forms of PR, and marketing. I find myself in awe, and in great respect of an agency that many people refer to as “the one with Smokey the Bear”. I

I hope to continue to be an annoying voice of possibility for the agency’s external image. Our mission comes first, but if more people knew about this amazing work, perhaps there would be no lapse in funding. Or, I could be wrong, and the Forest Service could simply become a catchy slogan on a T-Shirt. I believe no harm will come trying, though. I am sure thatPinchot was once considered revolutionary. All it takes is one person, and one idea to change an agency—and maybe the world.

Agency: U.S Forest Service

Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)

Location: Wildland Fire Training Center

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