Growing up in Madras, Quinton Big Knife worked for timber companies during breaks from school and soon decided he wanted to pursue a forestry degree at Oregon State University.
“I just really like being out in the woods,” says the Oregon State senior. “It’s exciting to see a forest go from unmanaged to managed and to see the difference it makes.”
To ease his transition to Oregon State, Big Knife participated in the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program.
The LSAMP program at Oregon State, funded by the National Science Foundation, is dedicated to increasing the number of traditionally underrepresented students successfully completing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) baccalaureate degree programs. LSAMP also works to increase the number of students interested in and qualified for undergraduate research and graduate level studies.
“The program was really helpful,” Big Knife says. “The college community is really great, and I have made a lot of great connections, especially since I started professional school.”
Big Knife participates in the Oregon State student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF), serving as vice chair. He is also involved in undergraduate research.
“The work is really fun and educational,” Big Knife says. “The project is biomass research. We sample and take measurements of trees on different national forests, and help make biomass equations to inform land management decisions.”
To conduct his research, Big Knife often spends eight days in the forest at a time, which he enjoys.
“I love going out to the College Research Forests for labs. Having them so close to campus is awesome. Learning how to timber cruise from a book is different from doing it yourself. You get your measurements, get your data, and really understand what the numbers mean,” he says.
While Big Knife isn’t sure where life after graduation will take him, he feels prepared to work in the forestry industry and is excited to implement active forest management techniques across our landscapes.
“I think agencies need more resources to carry out active forest management plans,” Big Knife says. “And the public needs more information about what active forest management looks like. I am excited for my future career as a forester and silviculturist.”