By Logan Johnson
I was raised in the State of Maine in the USA, surrounded by a forest my entire childhood. Anytime I was outdoors, there were trees. I just couldn’t see them yet.
Of course, I knew there were forests, and I could see the trees, but I was blind to the value they provide. It wasn’t until I was a student at the University of Maine, studying biology when I found the power of plants. Specifically, I learned how essential forests are for our climate. I have since learned forests are places that absorb and store carbon and release oxygen for us to breathe, filter drinking water, and provide habitat for wildlife. They also offer many products we use in our day to day lives from lumber for our houses to paper in our tissues. Most importantly, forests are a place to relax, rest, and let go.
Learn more about my Background in my first blog post: REDBEACH.BIZ
Once I could see the forest, I was obsessed. There was and still is so much to learn about it. The soil, on its own, is a complex ecosystem. There are so many species of fungi, lichen, annual plants, shrubs, and overstory trees that make up the forest canopy. Wildlife is abundant, signs can be found almost anywhere you look.
I became so entrenched, I decided to pursue a career in protecting it. I started by completing an internship with a Land Trust, an organization that owns or has agreements with landowners to conserve land. This experience gave me so many opportunities to entrench myself in the forest for hours at a time. I would maintain trails and campsites, lead walks and educational programs, and did plenty of off-trail tasks such as installing trail cameras and assisting foresters. It was the alone time that was most meaningful. Being alone in the woods is one of the most natural yet uneasy feelings I have ever experienced.
Following these first experiences, I went on to become a service volunteer for a land trust in Massachusetts. I did much of the same work and gained valuable experience in organizing communities around conservation projects. I then decided to continue to learn about the forest and returned to the University of Maine for a Master’s of Forestry degree.
Today, I am a forester, but I don’t spend as much time in the woods as I used to. Instead, I work with several groups of people dedicated to promoting the value of the forests around Maine.
I have many projects as a forest conservationist and not-for-profit consultant. One job I have is coordinating a statewide program geared toward recognizing family woodland owners. For another organization, I am developing citizen science and outreach programs. I also assist a third organization with projects associated with addressing forest climate change issues.
One of the most important things I have learned throughout my experiences has been the value of storytelling. Sharing stories and personal anecdotes are the best way to express how essential forests are for our wellbeing. I have more stories than I can share in this blog post, but over time I will share as many as I can. As I reflect more, I will share more.
Thank you at MS WOODS for the opportunity to contribute!