The Texas A&M Forest Service is a recognized leader in defining forestry for the future of Texas and the nation. In addition to the agency’s role of natural resources management, TFS serves as the incident management agency for state disasters, including wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. The agency’s influence extents far beyond the boundaries of Texas with their Texas Wildfire Protection Plan (TWPP) acting as national model for state wildfire protection. Matthew Garrison, a senior studying fire ecology at ATCOFA gained first-hand insight into the agency’s diverse role in the management and care of Texas land through his three-month internship with TFS.
What were your duties as an intern with TFS?
I traveled all across Texas and worked out of many offices. I worked in San Antonio, Bastrop, Austin, Nacogdoches, Hudson, Jacksonville, Dallas, Mcgregor and Granbury. I have been from Zapata County in Southwest Texas all the way to Cass County in Northeast Texas.
As intern, my primary focus was to see the inner workings of the agency and get a feel for the tasks they perform. I job shadowed and observed current employees some days and then worked in the field on assigned tasks the next. Each week was in a different office, so it also allowed me to improve professional presentation skills and working with different people all over the state.
How has this experience enhanced your undergraduate career?
I believe that the networking that I have been able to engage in, as well as the applied technical experience, will give me better luck while job hunting in the year to come. Being able to apply all that I have learned in the past three years at SFA in a practical way has given me an appreciation for the education I have received here.
What was your favorite part about the internship?
Having spent an awful lot of time on the eastern side of the state, this summer has allowed me to travel just about as far west as you can go. Being interested in fire ecology, it was cool to see the change in fuel types across the state – moving from the pines to the oak savannah to landscapes choked with mesquite. This combined with seeing a lot of cool fire equipment has made the summer great.
How did you learn about the internship?
I saw the positioin listed on the job board in the Forestry Department at SFA, and I thought that it would be a really cool opportunity. I would highly recommend those who are interested in working for a state agency to apply for the summer internship with TFS next year.