USDA Forest Service
 

Pacific Southwest Research Station


  fs.fed.us
 
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Meet Jennifer Jones, grants and agreements specialist

A photo of Jennifer Jones, right, sitting with Rochelle Selvin at a California Academy of Sciences event in San Francisco.
Jennifer Jones has been supporting researchers at the Pacific Southwest Research Station since 1992 when she was first hired as a high school student aide. (U.S. Forest Service)

When thinking about research, it’s easy to get swept up in the wonder of discovery and the exhilaration of pushing the frontiers of knowledge. But science also has a business side. Researchers need to be paid, equipment needs to be purchased, contracts between cooperating partners need to be drafted and signed.

Without someone working to make sure these transactions are handled smoothly, it would be difficult for research to happen. At the Pacific Southwest Research Station, one of those people supporting science from behind the scenes is Jennifer Jones, a grants and agreements specialist.

  • What do you do for the Pacific Southwest Research Station?

    As a federal research agency, we receive allotted funds from the government through its regular budgeting process. We also accept funds from outside organizations who want to collaborate with our scientists. In addition, we give money to outside researchers or research institutions who partner with us.

    I process money coming into and going out of the Station through the grants and agreements process. I keep track of the various legal agreements we have with our partners, making sure we’re all doing the things we agreed to do. I also serve as a resource for our researchers who have questions about the financial resources they have available to them for their own research or to collaborate on research with others.

  • When and why did you come to work for the Pacific Southwest Research Station?

    OK, this is a little embarrassing, but I’m just going to say it. I was a senior in high school, and my mom took away my phone because I didn’t have a job. So, I went to the job board at my high school, and there was a posting for a student aide position at the Research Station. It basically involved answering the phones and some light typing and filing, and I thought, “I could do that.” So I put on my best suit and came down for an interview on Friday and was hired on Monday. That was back in 1992.

    At the end of the summer, they asked if I liked the work and if I wanted to learn more? I did, so I started taking personnel classes and getting on-the-job training on how to hire people and process those personnel actions and related documents. I worked my way up from being a student aide to a personnel specialist in the Station’s Human Resources Department.

    So, I was literally in high school when I began working here, and I’ve been here ever since.

  • How did you transition into your current position?

    I made the switch to Grants and Agreements from Human Resources when the Forest Service began consolidating all of its Human Resources functions into a single building in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was faced with the choice of having to move to New Mexico or finding a new job.

    At the time, the Station had a trainee position open in its Grants and Agreements Department. I applied, and they took a chance on me. I loved it and appreciated the Forest Service for being an agency that provided opportunities for training positions as well as advancement based on experience. I loved getting to support our amazing scientists, and it was really cool to be a part of making the science happen. The work is never boring, and I’m constantly learning new things, even to this day.

  • Have you had any unexpected, unusual or exciting opportunities or experiences as a result of your work?

    I think my favorite experiences have been when I’ve been allowed to go out with the scientists to see and experience what they do and what they need to perform their jobs. I can’t tell you how helpful that is when you’re working behind the scenes trying to process or fulfill these requests.

    For example, when I was in Human Resources, some of the job announcements included the language “need to be able to hear normally and have color vision.” I always thought, “That’s kind of a strange stipulation to have in place. Is it really OK to require this without being discriminatory?” But then I got to go out and work with our researchers when they were listening for owl calls and placing colored bands on the owls, and then it all made sense.

  • What do you enjoy most about your work?

    The people. I enjoy working with so many different people from different backgrounds and specialty areas. Customer service is really important to me, and I love feeling like my work is making a difference for the people I’m helping.

    I’m in a bit of a unique situation having worked for the Station from such a young age. I feel like the organization has raised me. It’s cool knowing you work with people who have been with you through this entire journey of your life. They threw me a high school graduation party, a bridal shower, a baby shower. They’ve watched me grow up. It’s a really special thing and a really special place.

  • Who has inspired you in your career?

    My first supervisor Rochelle Selvin. She’s been my mentor for almost my entire career here, since starting in Human Resources. She taught me so much, not just about my job in Human Resources, but about the value of good customer service, the importance of solid documentation, to take time and research when someone asks a question to ensure a quality answer, and to always be open to new opportunities. She’s always encouraging me to keep moving forward and look for ways to improve myself and develop my skills to better serve the Forest Service. I’m extremely grateful for her support and guidance throughout my career.

  • What advice do you have for others interested in this field or another field in science?

    We wouldn’t be here without the scientists, and the science couldn’t get done without the administrative staff. We’re in this together. Embracing your role and seeing the bigger picture and your role in it is very important.

    I also can’t stress enough the value of volunteering. If you’re interested in something, volunteer your time or do an internship to get a taste of it. See if you’re really interested. If you have the opportunity, reach out and talk to someone in your area of interest. You’d be surprised to see how many people are willing to be a resource and help you, if you just reach out and ask.

Last Modified: Apr 4, 2017 10:26:10 AM