By Glenn Ahrens
Forests Forever has found a new Hopkins Forest Educator, just in time for tree planting season. FFI has contracted with Peter Matzka to run the education program through June 30, 2014.
Peter has extensive experience in forestry and forest engineering as both a practitioner and a teacher. His qualifications include a B.S. and M.S in Forest Engineering, a PhD in Harvesting (all from Oregon State University), and work experience as an Instructor, Assistant Professor of Forest Operations, Forest Educator, a practicing Logging and Roads Engineer, and seasonal wildland firefighter. Although Peter has a strong background in practical forest engineering, he has found his passion in pursuit of forestry education.
After years of teaching and practicing forest engineering in Humboldt County, California (2001-2007), Peter and his wife Jenny found that they were drawn to return to Oregon and they moved back to Silverton in 2007. “It was a family decision to move back to Oregon and live in a community we loved rather than just move to the next job location.” Peter, Jenny, 4-year-old daughter Arianne, and soon to arrive son, Will, made the move to his wife’s home town of Silverton and their jobs just fell into place.
For the last six years Peter has been working on forestry education programs for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI), including K-12 programs at the Rediscovery Forest at the Oregon Garden and the Careers in Forestry program in High Schools across Oregon.
The new direction at Hopkins Forest happened to coincide with changes in the Careers program for OFRI, providing some flexibility for Peter to take on the Hopkins Forest Educator duties as a contractor. Peter comes highly recommended and all indications are that this will be a great fit for Peter and for FFI. “The Transition from OFRI to the Hopkins Demonstration Forest is an exciting chapter to my career in public education. Early on, I knew I wanted a different career path in forestry and the research and educational aspects were always a huge interest of mine. Making connections with the public and professionals in forestry (of any age) is exciting and rewarding. Whether it is a 10-year olds’ first time out in the forest, a high school student aspiring to enter Oregon’s forest sector workforce, or seasoned landowners and professionals in forestry or teaching, each group offer unique experiences and learning opportunities for them and me, it’s what makes the job fun.”
Peter will be at Hopkins Forest Tuesdays through Thursday and for Community Forestry Days. He is also teaching a course in Forest Operations at the OSU College of Forestry on Mondays and Fridays. FFI’s goal is to hire a new permanent Hopkins Forest Educator employee in July 2014.