Serving as a Forest Service intern


Last updated 8/2/2022 at Noon

Have you ever wondered who are and what are inside the six cottages on the perimeter of the Forest Service’s Sisters District station? Three are bunkhouses, one is storage space, and the other two are for fire-related management.

In the three unairconditioned bunkhouses with full kitchens, are nine seasonal workers and two interns. The seasonal hires perform a myriad of forest management work assignments that are not accessible when the snows are deep. They work for periods of at least six months.

The interns are here for 10 weeks. The Nugget met at length with one last week — Deisy Garcia. She will be a senior at the University of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley campus in Edinburg, Texas. Her major is Environmental Science, with a minor in Chemistry.

She commutes to campus from her home in Mission, Texas, where she lives with her parents and two younger brothers, 12 and 11.

“I miss my brothers,” she said. “I feel badly that I cannot be there right now to help my parents with the boys.”

Otherwise, she is finding her time in Sisters above expectations.

“I’m not studying forest management, biology or botany, so what I am learning is not directly related to my degree,” she said. “But I am learning so much about the natural world.”

She admitted to not being into wildlife, yet she rapidly engaged in projects like the owl and frog surveys, the former taking place at night. Not surprising, the elusive barred owl, scarce in our woods, was not encountered, but it was nonetheless exciting to search.

Once, helping at the Bend Station, required overnight camping, another first for Garcia.

What she likes most about her gig is the range of work.

“Every day is not the same,” she said.

Her work and that of her fellow HACU intern, is directed by District Ranger Ian Reid and botanist Beth Johnson. Each Monday the interns get a schedule of work that is occasionally re-ordered to meet project demands.

Garcia, a non-citizen, applied for the internship via HACU (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities) National Internship Program. HACU, founded in 1986, represents more than 500 colleges and universities in the United States, Latin America, Spain, and school districts throughout the U.S. HACU is the only national association representing existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

The work is intense, with heat to match, something Garcia is used to coming from Texas. The Sisters Ranger District, by virtue of its bunkhouses, is able to accept interns. Not every District in the Deschutes National Forest has the necessary lodging. The interns share their bunkhouse with a seasonal botanist and an apprentice wildfire fighter.

Reid, grateful for and supportive of the program had this to say about the interns:

“It has been wonderful having our two HACU interns here this summer. They have helped us accomplish important stewardship work and hopefully they have learned a lot about public land management and natural resource conservation as well. Hopefully this internship will spark future work for them with the Forest Service.”

Garcia and her mate have to submit two essays about the experience, one at the five week midpoint and the other at the end of the internship. Garcia finds the essay prep and writing to be a useful effort in supplementing her overall college experience.

The interns have no wheels, and thus have come to know Sisters on foot. Garcia is taken aback by the kindness and courtesy of the people she meets in town.

“Everybody says hello,” she said, with some amazement.

When we asked why that was surprising, she would only say, “In Mission, when you walk down the street nobody greets you. Everybody’s kinda focused, too busy I guess.” She’s been delighted by the sincere reception she’s received. “People are so helpful — with directions, where to find things, recommendations.”

For reasons of privacy, Garcia’s photo could not be published.


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