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Heading: Working for the Great Outdoors.
What We Do (header)
  Forest Service employees are caring for the land and serving people in five primary areas of activity:
  • We protect and manage natural resources on National Forest System lands.
  • We initiate and perform research in forestry, rangeland and watershed management, fish and wildlife conservation, social sciences, and forest resource utilization.
  • We provide community assistance and we cooperate with State and local government agencies, businesses, and private landowners to help protect and manage non-Federal forest and associated range and watershed lands.
  • We work in partnership with many public agencies and private sector entities to improve conditions in wildland/urban interfaces and rural areas, and to prevent and fight wildfires.
  • We contribute international assistance in formulating policy and coordinating U.S. support for the protection and sound management of forest resources throughout the world.
  • We operate 18 residential Civilian Conservation Corps Centers (better known as Job Corps Centers) where we teach young adults basic and occupational skills.
Hundreds of Occupations Nationwide

Over 30,000 people who make up the Forest Service workforce work in some of the most scenic and inspiring areas of our Nation. While most work mainly outdoors in national forests and grasslands, many perform their professional duties in offices and research laboratories nationwide. If you choose to join the Forest Service team, you will probably be engaged in one of these primary areas:

The National Forest System (NFS)
State and Private Forestry (S&PF ) and Fire
Research and Development
Operations (also known as Administration)
Program Development and Legislation

Other Key Programs

International Forestry
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Job Corps Program
Law Enforcement
Public Affairs

The National Forest System (NFS)

Either directly or indirectly, most Forest Service employees share in the management, protection, and use of the Nation's 191 million acres of NFS lands that make up almost two-thirds of the Nation's federally owned lands. Our employees share in a wide variety of employment opportunities in Forests, Soils, Air, Water, Range, Wildlife, Fish, Wood, Recreation, Minerals, Wilderness, Lands, and Operations. The NFS has 9 regional offices, 116 Forest headquarters (called Forest Supervisor Offices), and approximately 570 ranger districts or grasslands. Basically, each district ranger reports to a forest supervisor who reports to a regional forester who reports to a Deputy Chief in Washington, DC. Most regions have 10 to 15 Forest Supervisor Offices, and most Forests have 4 to 10 ranger districts or grasslands. Approximately 85 percent of FS employees work in the NFS.

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State and Private Forestry (S&PF ) and Fire

Most S&PF employees do not work at NFS sites, but many do. S&PF works in partnerships with individuals who own forest land and with State Foresters to ensure effective protection and management of the over 700 million acres of U.S. forest land outside the boundaries of the National Forests. The Forest Service delivers technical and financial assistance to serve the needs of the entire forestry community. Due to the amount of S&PF coordination required, the Fire Prevention, Forest Beautification, and Forest Health Protection (insect and disease control) Programs are in State and Private Forestry. We also have many additional cooperative forestry programs working in areas such as forest planning, urban forestry, rural development, and the harvesting, processing, and marketing of wood products. The Forest Service fire program is a part of the S&PF area because we coordinate with other organizations and also fight fires on non-NFS lands. Most Forest Service employees who fight fires have a primary responsibility other than fire. They may be clerks, foresters, wildlife biologists, computer specialists, or contract specialists, but after becoming trained and certified to fight fires they are called upon when needed. A smaller number of permanent employees work full time with the fire program. The Forest Service also employs a large number of seasonal fire fighters who only work in the fire program during the fire season. Even though fire is an S&PF program, most hiring is handled by NFS offices. Most seasonal fire fighting employment opportunities occur in the western part of the United States. The Forest Service has the Northeastern Areas State and Private Forestry office in Radnor, PA that coordinates S&PF programs in 20 northeastern states. In the rest of the United States, most S&PF programs are located at National Forest System locations.

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Research and Development

Forest Service Research and Development is the largest natural resources research organization in the world. The agency currently has approximately 2,100 employees in research with over 800 of these being research scientists. They work in laboratories, stations, universities, or other locations throughout the United States. A few work outside the United States. The Forest Service studies forest tree improvement, growth, and harvesting; forest economics; global change; protection of forests from fire, diseases, and pests; management and improvement of rangelands and wildlife habitats; forest recreation and wilderness management; urban forestry; forest engineering; resources monitoring and inventory; and many other areas. Research and Development is organized into six research stations and our world renowned Forest Products Laboratory. Many researchers work at these headquarters locations, but many others work at field laboratories, universities, and other locations.

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Operations (also known as Administration)

Like all major organizations, the Forest Service has many administrative employees. The agency employs over 4,000 people in operations which includes civil rights, computer, fiscal, human resources (personnel), and procurement. About half of these positions are specialists and the other half are a mixture of technicians and clerical employees. These employees may be located at NFS, S&PF, or research locations and usually are considered a part of the host organization. Within NFS, they may work at a regional office or forest location, although not all forests have operations units.

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Program Development and Legislation

One segment of the Forest Service is responsible for working with elected officials, interested parties, and FS managers to determine what work should be conducted (how much timber production, road construction, reforestation) and what resources (employment and dollars) are needed to accomplish this work. In addition, these employees, who are typically are located at headquarters locations, monitor and report to Congress and others on our accomplishments.

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Other Key Programs
These are just some of the key program areas.

International Forestry: The agency has employees who work with the international community to share ideas, technology, and experiences. These individuals mainly work in the Washington office.

International Institute of Tropical Forestry: This institute, located in Puerto Rico, conducts research and information sharing concerning tropical forestry.

Job Corps Program: The agency employs approximately 900 employees who work in 18 residential Job Corps Centers located on Forest Service lands. These teachers, counselors, cooks, nurses, and others work to improve the enrollee's job qualifications for productive work through training in vocational skills, basic education, and social development. Normally, over 9,000 enrollees attend Forest Service Job Corps Centers annually and over 80 percent of the graduates are placed in jobs, enroll in schools and colleges, or join the military.

Law Enforcement: The agency employs over 600 employees to police federal lands and property and to investigate criminal activities.

Public Affairs: The agency has approximately 500 employees who work with the public and external organizations to respond to questions, give advice, and to develop and distribute maps, photos, and other informational materials.

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