After a walk across the United States and an epic 48-hour experience in Grand Canyon National Park, junior Josh Lewis knew he had to study forestry.

The park rangers took care of him and gave him advice during his hike through the canyon.

“I hiked from north to south, and due to snow, I had to hike backwards and go back around,” Lewis explains.

But his spirit wasn’t deterred.

“I tried to have the mindset that this is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been, and I get to see it twice,” Lewis says. “And, thanks to the rangers, I realized my dream of working on and managing public lands.”

Lewis was born in the Pacific Northwest and spent time in rural Idaho as a child, before his family moved on to bigger cities.

“I think starting out in nature really shapes you,” he says. “I’ve worked a lot of different kinds of jobs, and after a while, they  all get old. I’ve been studying forestry for about three years now, and it still excites me because of the connection to the natural landscape.”

Lewis now calls Maui home, and first studied at the University of Hawai‘i, but took a break to complete his long walk when he realized he wasn’t working toward a particular goal. Since arriving at Oregon State, he’s kept his head in his books and focused on his classes. He says that since entering professional school, he’s hit a groove, and is enjoying his upper-level forestry classes.

He marks field school as one of the best Oregon State experiences so far.

“It felt like class, but it was really self-driven,” Lewis says. “I needed a lot of time to finish some of the exercises we did because going in, I wasn’t completely confident in my forestry skills.”

Field school orients students to the professional forestry  program and reinforces skills they’ve learned in the classroom by allowing students to practice in a real-world setting.

Lewis says one of the benefits of field school was getting to know his fellow classmates.

“During field school, we spent all day in the woods together and lived together at night,” he says. “It was an A-plus experience.”

Lewis’s goal is to work at Haleakala¯ National Park on Maui, but he says staying put in Oregon is a great backup plan.

“I love it here,” he says. “It’s beautiful, and it’s not really that far from the islands.”

He encourages anyone interested in the outdoors to consider studying forestry at Oregon State.

“I’m earning marketable skills in an industry that will allow me to work outside,” Lewis says. “My experience has been seamless. Everyone is friendly, and I love the atmosphere of my classes.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about our undergraduate programs here.

When Bill and Marion Collins moved onto 160 acres near Gold Hill in Jackson County, they had no idea what to do with their land or how to manage it.

The couple used their small farm to raise horses, rabbits and chickens for about 13 years. Their interest turned to forestry after visiting the Oregon Small Woodland booth at the county fair.

“The OSU Extension Service had a booth at the county fair, and I talked to the person about my problems,” says Bill Collins.

“We ended up working together to build seven miles of roads throughout the property.” The roads opened up new possibilities for the Collins’ land and initiated their first phase of forest management, which included selective harvesting.

“It went well, and harvesting made us a little money,” Collins said. “I got a lot of help from Oregon State, and we went from there.”

Collins was part of one of the first Master Woodland Manager classes offered in Jackson and Josephine Counties.

Stephen Fitzgerald, director of the Oregon State College of Forestry Research Forests, taught part of the course.

“It’s been wonderful to keep up with the Collins family over the years,” Fitzgerald says. “Their forest is incredibly well managed and well taken care of. It’s an example to foresters of what good stewardship looks like.”

Max Bennett, Jackson and Josephine County forestry extension agent, says the Collins’ property was one of the first private woodlands he visited when he started his position in 2000.

“They worked a lot with my predecessor,” Bennett says. “And they’ve been very generous with their property and with their time over the years. I’ve used their properties to host classes, tours and workshops on topics like basic woodland management, small-scale timber harvesting and thinning.”

Collins says it’s important to him to give back, “because the community helped me,” he says.

In 2018, Collins took his love for the community and extension to another level when he, along with his family, decided to donate his land to Oregon State University.

“We are really excited about this donation,” says Zak Hansen, director of of development for the College of Forestry. “We’ve had a couple of these kinds of forests donated in the past, and it’s a great opportunity for extension agents in those areas to use the land as a resource for their programs.”

Fitzgerald says he is excited to have another parcel under the Research Forest banner.

“With this land, we will continue our tradition of providing excellent teaching and extension outreach,” he says. “It gives me peace of mind to know that the land is close to an extension station.

There will be a strong OSU presence, and we will make sure it’s well utilized.”

Bennett agrees.

“This is an opportunity to continue doing what we’ve been doing on this property for many years,” he says. “We will continue to use it as a demonstration site and as an example of a very well-managed, multi-generational working forest.”

Bennett says many of the small woodland owners he works with in Jackson and Josephine Counties are concerned about issues of forest health and fire, and the Collins property will help him address and educate the public about those issues.

While the donation process took time, Collins still encourages others to consider donating their land.

“The process was worth it,” Collins said. “We’re very proud to be part of the newly-created ‘Collins Demonstration Forest’ here in Jackson County.”

The Collins’ will continue living on their property as long as they choose. When they leave, their house and its five acres will be held or sold at the discretion of the OSU

Foundation, and the money will be used for extension programming and scholarships, with preference given to students from Jackson and Josephine Counties. The bulk of the donated acreage will be held for at least 20 years.

“If it’s working the way it should be in 20 years, we will continue to hold on to it,” Hansen says. “This gift is a wonderful portrait of the Collins’ appreciation for the extension programs and their care for future generations.

For more information about how to donate land to the College of Forestry, contact Zak Hansen at the OSU Foundation:

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about the College Research Forests.

Thinking about planning on the landscape level can be overwhelming for forest managers. To help understand the complexities of land management and decision making, a collaborative team of Oregon State University researchers, the United States Forest Service, state agencies and private land owners worked together to help tailor a simulation modeling program called Envision.

The software was developed by a team led by John Bolte, professor and department head of Biological and Ecological Engineering in the College of Agricultural Sciences. It is an integrated modeling platform for coupled human and natural systems analyses.

The open source, GIS-based tool is helpful for planning and environmental assessments. It uses graphs, maps and data to demonstrate how landscape processes interact and how vegetation may change over time. For example, data can spatially depict where wildfire, prescribed fire, thinning and succession may occur over time under different land  management scenarios. If land managers are interested in a specific model output, such as dense forest habitat, timber volume or homes affected by wildfire, this can be summarized graphically.

Restoration fire in the Deschutes National Forest

OSU Research Associate Ana Barros, Senior Faculty Research Assistant Michelle Day, Assistant Professor Meg Krawchuk, and Forest Service partners collaborated and utilized the software to model wildfire and forest management scenarios on the Deschutes National Forest. The work included taking a look at the impact of restoration wildfire. These are wildfires caused by lightning that ignite in low risk areas when the weather conditions are mild. They are managed to help achieve forest restoration goals such as reducing understory fuels or thinning dense forests.

“What happens if we have more restoration fire?” asks Barros. “We want to explore this idea of letting wildland fire do some of the work we need to do in terms of restoration.”

The group modeled fires in the Deschutes National Forest and looked at factors like smoke, habitat for species like the northern spotted owl, and how much restoration can accomplish in terms of preventing devastating and out-of-control wildfire.

Modeling like this allowed the team to identify tradeoffs including cost, smoke and safety to help make science-based recommendations to land managers. Results suggested that, although there are trade-offs, restoration wildfire can improve forest resilience and contribute to restoration efforts in fire-adapted forests.

“Restoration fire is not a magic solution,” Barros says. “But it does improve resilience in forests.”

Collaborative forest management in Eastern Oregon

Oregon State, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station (PNW), took Envision to land managers and communities in Eastern Oregon.

In a project funded by the college’s Institute for Working Forest Landscapes and the PNW, a research team worked with managers and forest collaborative stakeholders to test how different management strategies might yield different future landscape outcomes for wildfire, fish and wildlife, timber production and other important values.

The collaborative groups the team worked with, including the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and the Lakeview Stewardship Group, were able to apply the results of the modeling to their dialogue and decision-making processes.

“The model provided a good conversation starter when looking at a specific area and how it fits into the larger landscape,” says Emily Jane Davis, assistant professor and extension specialist. “This type of data can help make forest management decisions more effective by aiding discussions about current conditions, future choices and outcomes.”

A version of this story appeared in the spring 2019 issue of Focus on Forestry, the alumni magazine of the Oregon State University College of Forestry. Learn more about college research here

What was your journey to the College of Forestry?

I did my undergrad in business and a minor in economics at the University of Oregon and worked a few different jobs, including in the Admissions Office at Western Oregon University, and I really loved the environment there. To get the type of university job I wanted, I needed a master’s degree so I decided to come to Oregon State to get my master’s in counseling. After that, I worked at LBCC in the TRIO program and in the Horticulture Department at Oregon State. I moved over here to the College of Forestry in 2014.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The students. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy working with the students. It’s really cool to see their development from start to finish. They really grow in confidence.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I like to kayak when the weather is good. I read a lot and watch some TV. I’m a parent to two teenagers who can’t drive themselves yet, so I spend a lot of time shuttling them between activities.

What have you been watching and reading lately?

I’m watching True Blood – about 10 years too late – and I just read a book called The Nature Fix, which is very interesting and relates a little bit to my work.

What job did you want to be when you were a kid?

I was never anyone who had a great sense of direction from a young age, but I did love art as a kid, and I think I wanted to be an artist at one point.

If you could only eat tacos or sushi for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Tacos! I’m a vegetarian and have been for about 30 years now. I also love Thai food, Mexican food, and I would eat pizza every day if I could. There isn’t much I don’t like, except for bananas.

On May 14, 2019, the Oregon State University College of Forestry celebrated the grand opening of the A. A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory. Sierra Pacific Industries, founded by Emmerson and his father, R. H. “Curly” Emmerson, contributed the lead gift of $6 million toward building the facility in October 2015. The new lab adds 15,000 square-feet of structural testing space to the college, which already boasts some of the best technical research facilities in the nation.

The new lab will:
•drive commercialization of advanced wood products and position the university and the entire State of Oregon as a hub for innovative and sustainable product creation and construction;
•support the growth of manufacturing capacity in timber-dependent, rural communities;
•grow opportunities for Oregon State students and industry partners in research, professional practice and collaboration;
•reinforce Oregon State’s international status as a premier forestry and forest products institution.

The facility contains:
•A 2,500 square-foot advanced wood products manufacturing area,
•A flexible demonstration classroom area for workshops and professional development,
•A 60-by-80-foot strong wall and reaction floor system will facilitate testing of up to three-story wood structures,
•The offices of the TallWood Design Institute, a unique research collaboration between the Oregon State University College of Forestry, College of Engineering, and the University of Oregon School of Design. It is the nation’s only research collaborative that focuses exclusively on the advancement of structural wood products, and serves as a national research, education, and outreach hub focusing on multi-family and non-residential wood buildings.

The lab will support research including shear wall testing, structural connections, exploring the feasibility of salvaged lumber, architectural and product design, building performance and more.

At the grand opening of the lab, Anthony S. Davis, interim dean of the College of Forestry spoke about the lab’s research impact as well as what it represents – continued excellence in the teaching, research and outreach of the college.

“As we stand here just a few miles away from some of the most productive and diverse forests in the world,” Davis said, “we are better positioned than anyone else to serve as a bridge between our natural resources and meeting the demands of urban growth and renewal, while also continuing to conserve habitat and provide recreational access.”

How long have you been at Oregon State? How did you get here? What’s your career journey been like?

I actually attended grad school in the College of Forestry, graduating in 2006.  I worked on the Willamette and Gifford Pinchot National Forests as a Recreation Planner for a few years before starting my position with the OSU Research Forests in 2012.  I would say it’s the best job yet, except for the two summers I spent as a Wilderness Ranger in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness when I was an undergrad.

What do you love about your job?

I love working out here at Peavy Arboretum.  I can walk outside at any time and find a snake in the planter boxes, watch the birds, or go for a quick walk or run on the trails.  While I don’t get to work in the field as much as I’d like, all of my work is tied to the land and how people connect with it.  Finding ways to help people form personal connections with nature is my main motivator.  Also, I work with really wonderful co-workers, students, volunteers and visitors.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I have an awesome partner, two little kids, a dog, two cats and five chickens who make life fun and busy.  I also really enjoy writing fiction, knitting, cooking, spending time with my extended family, and playing time outside.


What have you consumed within the pop culture world lately. Got any good books, movies, shows or podcasts to share?

I’m really embarrassed to say how caught up I am in the last season of Game of Thrones and definitely spent a sleepless night this week reliving zombie battle scenes in my head.  I pretty much enjoy most sci-fi and fantasy tv shows, regardless of apparent quality, especially ones with queer characters.


What’s your favorite food?

Not-so-sweet chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting and a giant glass of milk.

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?

I would like to be a cat, primarily because I would be able to sleep whenever I want to, wherever I want to.  Also, I would be very honest about how I feel at all times, and would enjoy small pleasures such as warm sunshine, cuddling, and chasing lasers.

Welcome to Oregon State! You started your job a few weeks ago. How is it going?

I say that it’s like drinking from a fire hose, but it’s good. There are lots of different things to consider. I worked at the University of Idaho before, and Oregon State is much bigger, and the College of Forestry is much bigger. There are different processes and what feels like thousands of trainings. I haven’t felt very effective yet.

What is your job, exactly?

My title is ‘targeted research coordinator.’ I’ll be helping to manage some of our internal funding sources. I’ll work very closely with the TallWood Design Institute to manage those funds and McIntire-Stennis research funds as well. I’ll also help Melora during busy times.


What do you do when you’re not working?

I love teaching people about using essential oils. I do that on the side.

What are your favorite oils?

Lavender, lemon and peppermint. They’re amazing during allergy season.


What is your favorite meal?

Probably literally the one that will kill me someday: fettuccini alfredo.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

I would pay off all my debt and put money aside for my children and future grandchildren, and then I would want to travel. My oldest daughter was born in Iceland so I would want to take here there to see where she was born and then also go visit my youngest daughter who now lives in Australia.

How did you end up here in the College of Forestry?

I’m a third-generation Beaver! I ran track here, and after I graduated, I lived in California for a year and a half before going back to school to get my teaching certificate so I could be a physical education teacher, but at that time, the job market was really competitive, so one of my friends suggested I get a job on campus. I worked in the registrar’s office for five years and in The School of Civil and Construction Engineering for a month shy of 20 years. I’ve been here for five.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The people. I love my colleagues and the students I advise.


Do you still run? What are your other hobbies?

I can’t run anymore, unfortunately. I had two knee surgeries, and I didn’t get the therapy I needed right away, so I never got back into. I like to play computer games and spend time with my family. I have one sister who lives here in town, and she has two kids. My older son lives in Albany with his three kids. I have step son in New Zealand, and we were able to visit him there about five years ago.

That’s amazing. Do you travel a lot?

Not really, but I do go to Maui every year. We like to go for the women’s basketball tournament and experience 84-degree and sunny December days.


Have you read any good books lately?

Right now I’m rereading the Hunger Games. I love those types of books.


If you were an ice cream flavor, what kind would you be?

Chocolate. It’s my favorite. And it has to be Umpqua ice cream.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve done for fun?

I’ve been zip-lining in Hawaii a few times, and I enjoy white-water rafting. My sister wants to skydive, but I would never do that.

You’re an OSU alumna, right? How did you end up here at the College of Forestry?

I graduated with my degree in merchandizing management in 2010. During college I was a START leader and worked in New Student Programs. I was involved in Greek life on campus and held leadership positions for my chapter and Panhellenic council. When I started to think about life beyond college, I knew I didn’t want to enter the corporate world. I loved my own academic advisor, and I attribute the fact that I didn’t fail out of college to her, so I went straight to grad school in the college student services administration program. After that, I advised the design program as it moved from PHHS to COB, then sociology and now natural resources.

What’s different about being an advisor in the College of Forestry than anywhere else on campus?

Our group is well-respected across campus. I love the people I work with, and I love the students I advise. They are often nontraditional students, veterans or active military, and they care about a wide range of issues that are important to me as well.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I chase my 19-month-old daughter around. My life has changed so much since becoming a parent. Right now I am enjoying watching her experience new things like swimming and going to the beach. It’s fun to see her excitement and joy!

Watching anything good on Netflix?

I love Grace and Frankie. I’m a Netflix binger for sure.


What about books? Are you a reader?

Right now, I read a lot of parenting books, but I did just finish Michelle Obama’s book and was able to see her speak in Portland. She also spoke at my graduate commencement. It was an honor to be able to see her twice in one lifetime.


What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

A pickled pig’s tail. I’m pretty sure it gave me an infection.

  • How did you end up at Oregon State as an undergrad? Why did you decide to stick around? What’s it like being a graduate student?

I grew up in a family of Beaver fans, so even though I’m a first-generation college student, I always saw myself here. I love the College of Forestry and the community of Corvallis. It’s a really nice place to stick around. Being a graduate student is extremely busy, but rewarding.

  • What’s your favorite part of studying wood science?

I really like that the program is technical-science focused, with a focus on industry, research and development. Hands-on experiences, in addition to industry exposure, have been crucial. The program itself has faculty and students with many diverse interests and areas of study, which provides unique perspectives and experiences.

  • What do you do when you’re not studying/working? (You could talk about your hobbies, family, friends and/or what you do for fun!)

When I’m away from campus, I enjoy hiking, fishing, and running wherever I can get away to with friends and family. I grew up around a lot of animals, so I enjoy a lot of time with my dog, Rogue, who often goes hiking with me. I enjoy watching sports, especially any Oregon State team.

  • When will you finish your program? What’s next? What’s your dream job?

I will be finishing up my master’s this June, then I will spend the summer traveling around Europe and the United States. After summer, I will be starting my career within forest products. My dream job and my eventual career goal is to be an executive on a forest products board of directors, where I can combine my knowledge, skills, and experience to benefit the company.

  • If you could be an animal, what animal would you be and why?

I would be a dog because loyalty, friendliness, ability to learn fast, fast-speed, and an adventurous spirit are great traits to have, which a dog already possesses.