As Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Lands at the Washburn Ranger District on the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Teresa Maday finds it rewarding to identify projects that will help people and then finding the funding resources and bringing people together who can help make things happen. Maday grew up on the Bad River Indian Reservation just east of Ashland, Wisconsin. The reservation is located along Lake Superior (Gitchigumi which means “great water” or “great lake” in Ojibwe). The Bad River runs through the middle of the reservation and flows into the Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior.
What led you to the Forest Service and when did you start working here?
In 1991, I met Leon Blaishek, former district ranger from the Bessemer Ranger District on the Ottawa National Forest during a job fair at the end of my freshman year at Northland College. We struck up a conversation that lasted over one hour. Leon asked me what I was going to school for and I told him an associate’s degree in natural resource management so I could work outside. He told me that he thought I would be a great fit in recreation for a variety of reasons and that I should get a four-year degree. I was hired that year as a recreation technician. The next year, I became a co-op student with the USFS Eastern Region and was a technician on the former Manistee Ranger District, which is now the Cadillac/Manistee Ranger District, on the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
What was outdoor life like growing up?
On the reservation, the community of Odanah, which comes from the Ojibwe word Odaynahwing and means village or town, is where many of my relatives and family members live. My Grandma Bubbles, a nickname given to her as a kid, had the only gas station in Old Odanah, and she lived along the Bad River. She rented boats to people for setting nets and fishing. I guess you could say she was the first livery service in Odanah. I learned to row a boat when I was six or seven years old so I could go out on the river by myself. I was always fishing with my brother Paul and our cousins. When we weren’t fishing, we were playing in the woods, swimming, picking apples where there were once homesteads, riding bikes, playing football or baseball, ice skating and helping our grandma at the store.
Who or what inspired you growing up?
I was inspired by my parents, Joe and Mary Maday. They both went to college and worked in public service while raising a family. They both served in leadership roles within the Bad River community, demonstrating how to help people and do what was right for people and the resources. My dad was the director of the Upward Bound Program at Northland College helping minority and low-income high school students graduate and go to college. My mom was the director of the Bad River Housing Authority and garnered grant funding to build a facility and start the Mashkisibi Boys & Girls Club in Odanah, Wisconsin. They continue to inspire me and I hope that I am as successful and giving as they have been.
What do you like to do for fun on your free time?
Towards the end of summer into fall, I enjoying harvesting wild rice with my Dad where the Kakagon Sloughs meets Lake Superior. My fiancé Keith and I enjoy paddle boarding, trail running, going on trips, picking berries, running races, walking our dog Bella, taking in a baseball or football game and geocaching. We also volunteer in the Superior Vistas Bike Tour. I can fruits, vegetables and venison and make cakes and decorate them for family and friends for weddings, graduations and other events.
What is your highest personal and professional achievement?
In my personal life, I don’t think I’ve come to my greatest achievement yet. My journey to improve myself and overcome challenges is still happening. However, I recently tackled my fear of heights. Keith and I were with two friends geocaching and riding the longest and highest zipline in Canada. I was so nervous and scared, especially after having to cross two swinging suspension bridges half-mile above a canyon with a small creek. I got strapped in, got up the nerve to push off the platform and had the most awesome and terrifying ride of my life! I now want to visit Las Vegas and ride the zipline Superman style-over the city.
My professional goals when I began my career were to be a firefighter, fighting wildland fires and conducting prescribed burns, and a district recreation program manager. I have fulfilled both of those goals and am considering what I should aim for next before I retire. I’m not sure which road to take, but I hope it will be a challenge that helps me continue to grow.
How would you like the public to perceive the work we do at the Forest Service?
USDA Forest Service works hard to provide safe, enjoyable recreation that enhances communities. We work hard to stretch every resource because we have to ensure the public will continue to enjoy public lands for many generations to come.
What are your future career goals?
I am still thinking about the next step in my career that will challenge me and continue my personal growth. I know I want to remain involved on the ground; getting out in the field, my hands dirty and continuing to find creative solutions to the challenges the agency faces.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to serve their country as a Forest Service employee?
Be open to trying new things and be willing to adapt to changes within the agency. There are so many things you can experience while helping protect resources and providing safe recreational opportunities for the public to enjoy. If you are open to being challenged and want to work with great people the Forest Service is a great agency to a part of.