Seedling Series

Interviews with Alumni

by Rand Snyder

Tony Streams ’13

Age: 22
PSC Program: Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Job Title: Forestry Technician (Recreation)
Agency: US Forest Service, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Madison Ranger District
Current Location: Ennis, MT

How did you end up in this position?

I ended up with the Madison Ranger District six months after graduation. I learned about opportunities the US Forest Service offered through the Career Center at PSC. Growing up I was a hunter and trapper, and I have always had a passion for the outdoors and environment. I was also involved in my local fire department and ambulance services (I was an EMT in NY for a couple years during college). With my passion for volunteer work as well as the outdoors, I felt working for the public, with the US Forest Service, was the perfect fit. I applied to many positions through USAJobs, and called several ranger districts to follow up and ask for advice. I was hired on in 2014 as a Forestry Technician in Recreation, Wilderness, and Trails on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Ennis, Montana.

So, what do you do as a Recreation Technician for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF?

I have been with the Madison Ranger District for two seasons. My first season was more general recreation – I was responsible for the day-to-day functions and needs of our campgrounds, including signage, site condition monitoring, and educating the public in food storage safety and bear awareness. Additionally, I did a lot of work in our wilderness area with backcountry and dispersed recreation. My job plays a huge role in educating the public in fire safety, food storage, Leave No Trace, tread lightly, and more. Sometimes I represent the USFS at local events such as rodeos or fairs to help educate the public in these policies.

Though my duties focused primarily on rec, wilderness and trails, the USFS provides opportunities to participate in other disciplines, including wildland fire, both on and off district. Last year I participated in two prescribed burns on district and one off-district fire. If you are a go-getter, the opportunities are endless!

Tony Streams 2

So, what sort of work is involved in back-country and wilderness recreation management?

In addition to developed rec, I spent my time hiking and riding stock in the wilderness areas. Our wilderness, (the Lee Metcalf Wilderness), limits use to primitive and non-motorized vehicles and tools. This is true for administration as well, in order to maintain the integrity of the area as wilderness. I worked in trail monitoring, social encounter surveys, and trail projects. Specifically, I was the liaison for the FS last year, overseeing and helping to build a bridge for horse and hiking uses. This involved felling, bucking, skinning, skidding, and building this bridge exclusively with hand tools and stock, and also included the use of crosscut, axes, log tongs, excavating tools, and hand drills.

What sort of training did the USFS provide you?

The training I received with the USFS is all-encompassing. During preliminary orientation as a new hire, I received training in defensive driving (US Government driver’s license), ATV/UTV operation, CPR/AED and first aid with American Heart Association, and trailer towing. I also got S-212 chainsaw certification (A-level Sawyer). This year I was certified as a B Sawyer, meaning I am certified to cut larger and more hazardous trees.

I also received on-the-job training in water tests at campgrounds and paperwork like patrol logs and issuing notices for infractions found in the forest. Right now, I am due to be certified as a Forest Protection Officer next year, which will allow me to enforce forest policies and rules. Finally, I also received packing training with stock when I was sent to the Lincoln Ranger District for a week-long packing trip in the Scapegoat Wilderness. This included training on horsemanship, packing loads, knot tying, and leading a pack spring of horses and mules.

Can you explain what work you do with stock and packing? How do they fit in with recreation on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge NF?

Packing is a term used to describe the use of horses, donkeys, or mules in moving loads – usually camping gear, tools, food, hay, etc. My responsibilities with stock and packing include the planning and implementation of packing trips in our wilderness to aid contract trail crews, volunteers, or administrative projects.

As lead seasonal packer, I am required to transport and care for stock, load them up with gear, and lead them on horseback into our wilderness to carry out projects. I am also in charge of the maintenance of the tools and tack (saddles, packing harnesses, etc). The use of stock and packing is important because stock allow more work to be done in less time and allow loads to be carried into wilderness, where motorized vehicles aren’t allowed. My district relies on packing, because this increases the rate in which our back-country trail clearing and maintenance projects are completed. Next year, the district plans to send me to the 9 Mile Pack School in Spotted Bear, MT! Remember, the west was built from the back of a horse!

How did PSC help prepare you for this job?

Paul Smith’s prepared me for this job in more ways than the diploma I hang on my wall. Attending PSC gave me hands-on understanding of many of the tasks I complete in my job, such as packing. I took Draft Horse Management with Bob Berhl, which helped me to understand the components of packing stock and helped me become more confident around horses. This job, coupled with that foundational knowledge, allowed me to become a better packer. The forestry classes I took at PSC taught me how to use a map and compass to navigate, and the basic functions of several forestry hand tools. I also took the core GIS classes at PSC, which helped me at work, since they taught me about collecting field data and understanding what was needed to effectively use data to create good maps and information. Paul Smith’s gave me the foundation and confidence to problem solve and be open to jumping into a new task.

Future plans?

I plan to become a recreation resource specialist or wilderness ranger as a permanent. I hope to become a GS-5 next season. I would like to stay on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge, but am open to move to another forest if a permanent job presents itself in the next couple years.

What do you do in the off season?

In the off-season I work in Big Sky, MT as a snowplow operator at the Yellowstone Club. I landed this job thanks to my past experience as a heavy equipment operator, which I did during the summers back in NY. I got this connection for this job through a reference by a BLM employee who works in our office.

Glossary of Terms


BLM- Bureau of Land Management, a Federal land management agency tasked with managing vast tracts of land located mainly in the Western US. BLM is part of the US Department of the Interior.

Forestry Technician- The backbone of the US Forest Service and other Federal land management agencies. Forestry Technicians can be hired to perform tasks ranging from trailwork to firefighting to off highway vehicle patrolling to education and interpretation to research. Forestry Technicians can be seasonal or permanent positions.

GS-05– GS, or General Schedule, is a type of pay grade used by the US Government. GS-05 is generally granted to employees with Bachelors degree in related field or equivalent experience (except in Fire positions).  However, most employees with Bachelors degrees and/or experience, including both the author and editor, will start at GS-04.

NF- National Forest

USFS- US Forest Service, a Federal land management agency tasked with managing the nations National Forests, National Grasslands, as well as the research and development of new technologies and sciences relating to forests and their products. Additionally, the USFS is tasked with helping to manage and assist forestry at the state and private levels. USFS is part of the US Department of Agriculture.

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