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Women's History & the Forest Service

A graphic that features pictures of Mary Wagner, Angela Coleman, Safiya Samman, Kim Walton and Patti Hirami and a quote for each person. The quotes for each person are on the hyperlinked web page.

In 2010, the U.S. Forest Service granted a wish come true for actress Betty White when the agency recognized her as an honorary forest ranger. White, a wilderness and nature conservation advocate, wanted to be a forest ranger when she grew up, but the Forest Service did not provide women that option then. Today, women comprise 38 percent of the Forest Service which employs over 30,000 people. Women now hold positions across all levels of the agency.

During Women’s History Month of March, the U.S. Forest Service recognizes past and current women who have cared for America’s national forests and grasslands, and have served people across the country.

Soon after the establishment of the Forest Service in 1905, women were primarily administrative clerks and were deemed not fit to handle the more laborious work in the field. It was not until 1913 when the Forest Service hired and assigned its first woman, Hallie M. Daggett, to field work as a lookout at Eddy’s Gulch Lookout Station on the Klamath National Forest in Yreka, Calif.

Over the years, women’s roles in the Forest Service certainly advanced beyond clerk duties. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Forest Service welcomed women in traditionally male career sectors, including law enforcement and firefighting, and women were recognized in senior leadership positions.

Today, women hold positions in all aspects within the Forest Service including senior leadership appointments as well as forester positions, firefighters, scientists and many more career options. In 2007, Abigail R. Kimbell was the first woman to hold the highest level of leadership in the Forest Service as chief, and today Mary Wagner holds the second highest leadership position as the current associate chief.

The women in the photo collage represent various dynamic programs in the Forest Service. Combined, they offer a glimpse into the diversity of the agency that welcomes the contributions of a diverse workforce.


Differences in gender, experience, race…they all contribute to the diversity of the human ecosystem. –Mary Wagner

One of the biggest messages from my female mentors - don’t limit yourself.  There are endless possibilities! –Angela Coleman

Women leaders bring a sense of fearlessness. –Kim Walton

As nurturers, women have the power to nurture the land, and most importantly, the people who live on it. –Safiya Samman

The opportunities to do almost anything you want are here with the Forest Service. –Patti Hirami



USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).

US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

[graphic] USDA logo, which links to the department's national site. [graphic] Forest Service logo, which links to the agency's national site. [graphic] A link to the US Forest Service home page.