Major: Forest Engineering; Year: Junior
Josh Fix says he’s never seen a photo that accurately portrays just how green the forests in Oregon are.
“They’re almost glowing,” he says. “I love the simplicity of the forest; how quiet and different everything is. They provide a breath of fresh air and create wonder in me.”
Fix, who grew up in Minnesota, first fell in love with the forests of Oregon as a child during a visit to the state.
He initially declared a major in civil engineering at Oregon State before realizing he wanted to work outside.
“I found forest engineering and it was the perfect major for me,” he says. “It allows me to solve the same kind of problems and use applied science, but I get to do it outside where I see a bigger impact because of everything outdoor spaces provide.”
When he’s not studying, Fix works with the College Research Forests as a recreation field assistant. He found the position through the college’s job shadow program. He shadowed Ryan Brown, former Research Forests recreation and engagement program manager, and learned about the open position. Fix, who loves recreation as well as engineering, thought the job sounded like a perfect fit.
“I do trail maintenance, manage invasive species and repair interpretive materials at our trailheads,” Fix says. “There is something different every day.”
Matt McPharlin, recreation field coordinator and volunteer coordinator, is Fix’s supervisor, but Fix says he’s more than that.
“Matt has been a great mentor to me,” Fix says. “He encourages me to think outside the box and get the most out of this work.”
Fix says his favorite part of working in the College Research Forests is interacting with people recreating in the forests.
“I like to stop and say ‘hi,’” he says. “I meet interesting people from the community, many of whom have lived in Corvallis for years and have been using the forests longer than I’ve been alive. I like being able to talk to people and share stories.”
Fix says one of his most impactful experiences on the job was interacting with a group of blind and visually impaired hikers.
“It made me realize how special the College Research Forests are,” he says. “They are able to enjoy the forest in a completely different way than I do. It made me think about how to make the forest more accessible for differently abled individuals.”
When he’s not working, Fix utilizes the forests as a student during labs, but enjoys the forest most when he’s able to enjoy it in his free time.
“When I’m in the forest, I don’t feel the pressure of school,” he says. “I can take a deep breath and dream about my goals to manage and care for a working forest like this one day.”
A version of this story appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about College of Forestry research facilities and collaborations.