US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Matt Burks

Public Affairs Specialist
1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Suite 1400
United States

Phone: 503-808-2279
Contact Matt Burks


  • Oregon State University, Bachelors Communications 2000

Professional Experience

  • Public Affairs Specialist, Pacific Northwest Research Station
    2016 - Current
    Regular duties include: managing the station’s internal communications by identifying key needs for improving communications on an ongoing basis, planning a program of work, serving as managing editor and writer for the station’s internal newsletter, facilitating internal station meetings, and maintaining connections to station retirees. Coordinating internal communication efforts with other Forest Service research stations, the agency’s Pacific Northwest and Alaska Regions, and the Washington Office by responding to requests for information, coordinating visits by WO leadership, and preparing joint products for communicating with employees. Help to write scripts for and produce videos and other multimedia content that showcases station scientists and leadership, research, and other topics. Research, write, and prepare Web content, news releases, newsletters, and other written materials that deliver science information to station partners, including news media and the general public. Assist with the hosting of special events and electronic forums designed to foster public understanding of scientific information generated by station researchers. Serve as point of contact for station media relations.
  • Public Affairs Specialist, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
    2011 - 2016
    Regular duties include: coordinating efforts to inform the public, National Forest users and customers, and employees of Forest Service about programs and policies through press releases, publications, website management and additional media channels. Organize and conduct public meetings, festivals and other forums designed to foster public participation. Regularly communicate with the public, listening and responding to concerns; regularly interact with high-level elected officials and their staffs. Communicate with internal and external stakeholders about Forest projects such as timber sales, restoration projects and forest planning efforts. Utilize the Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office Suite. Maintain website and social media channels daily. Regularly assists ID teams in preparing purpose and needs statements, Notice of Intent, communication plans, press releases, document compilation (508 compliance, and government printing office). Have worked on district level projects and forest level projects including Travel Management and Forest Plan Revision. Have set-up multiple public meetings for public scoping and roll-out. Selected Highlights: • Served as Acting Public Affairs Officer for 12 months while position was vacant, including attendance on the Forest Leadership Team and supervision of three Public Affairs Specialist detailed employees. • Served as Lead Public Information Officer for Wildland Fire Incidents on the Forest. • Designed and led trainings for staff on new systems for communicating with the public, including using specialized software for website updates and the complex • Designed interactive and print publications to relate detailed information and resources to the public and forest employees, using a variety of software & media platforms. • Strategized with a team and selected the most effective database software for efficient communications with multiple audience segments of stakeholders and constituents. • Facilitated planning sessions with the Forest Inclusiveness Team to improve communications and empower employees in regards to their rights and responsibilities. US Forest Service, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest 3/2014 – 10/2014 Acting Forest Safety Officer (Detail) Baker City, OR Position is responsible for promoting Health and Safety across the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Duties include coordinating with District Safety Committees, regular reporting, ensuring that proper safety equipment is available and utilized and that all hazard plans and awareness materials are up to date, in compliance and available to all employees. Implemented a forest wide Epinephrine Pen training program. Attended a week-long regional safety conference, topics included: Hazmat Awareness and Clean-up, EMS response protocols and utilization, OSHA standards and regulations regarding federal institutions, How to Write Safety Plans for Your Forest, Blasting as a Tool for Hazard Tree Removal and Fireline Construction, Facilities Inspection Techniques, ATV/UTV utilization and Training and Safety Apps that are available on mobile devices.
  • Fire Engine Operator, Humbolt-Toiyabee National Forest
    2009 - 2011
    Responsible for the use and maintenance of fire related equipment including: fire engine, portable pumps, chainsaws and hand tools. Supervised seasonal firefighters and led the fire prevention program. Selected Highlights: • Selected for a six-month detail position with the Asheville Hotshot Crew in North Carolina; assignments included squad boss duties and responsibility for overseeing prescribed burning projects. Squad boss duties included leading morning workouts, work assignments, maintenance of crew moral and providing for the safety of the crew. • Firefighting requires a high degree of situational awareness and attention to safety. Each day the crew participates in a tailgate safety session prior to heading out into the field. As a squad boss I led many of these tailgate safety sessions. I also wrote and updated the Job Hazard Analysis sheets for my department including chainsaw operation. • Fire Prevention duties included educating members of the public on proper maintenance of their houses and yards to minimize the spread of wildfires in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) areas. I also participated in many local events and festivals and brought Smokey Bear.

Last updated on : 07/12/2019