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Service Forester, PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry

Celine Colbert is a service forester with Pennsylvania’s DCNR. Many service foresters focus on assisting private woodland owners, but she has a unique position that focuses on urban and community forestry. She helps municipalities and community groups across six counties establish and maintain shade tree programs, and teaches individuals to properly plant and care for shade trees.

Degree Earned

B.S. Forest Ecosystem Management, 2015   

Q: What was your educational path to Penn State and to degree completion?

Studying forestry at Penn State was my plan from high school graduation.  I job shadowed a service forester during high school, which really showed me what I could be doing in the field.  Job shadowing is a great way to gain a better understanding of forestry and something I highly recommend those exploring majors to do.  At Penn State, I chose the Forest Management Option of the Forest Ecosystem Management major because I wanted the most hands-on experience and as much flexibility after graduation as possible.

Q: What additional training or education have you completed since earning your baccalaureate degree?

Since graduating I have obtained my pesticide applicators license and will be taking my ISA Certified Arborist Exam at the end of the month.  There is also much training offered by the Bureau of Forestry, from an intensive public speaking short course to a hands-on pinch hitter training, after which you are able to assist with routine tasks in the cockpit of a single-engine aircraft.  In one year with DCNR, I have received more than 20 trainings on various topics.

Q: What were some of your activities as a student?

  • The Forestry Society
  • Treehouse (Tau Phi Delta Fraternity) Little Sisters
  • Undergraduate Research
  • Woodsmen’s Team

Q: What did you like most about your major?

The diversity of topics covered in the Forest Ecosystem Management major really served as a great primer for the many different things that my job now entails.  I also appreciated that hands-on learning in the field was stressed.  By far my favorite part of the major was the learning environment.  Although the campus as a whole is huge, Forestry allows for small class sizes with great professors who students can get to know over multiple courses, which really allows you to gain a lot from the program.

Q: What do you like most about your job?

I love that every day is different.  I have the freedom to schedule my own days and I am constantly meeting with different people.  By teaching others the benefits of trees as well as how to care for them, I know that I am making an impact and improving my community.  I also really enjoy that I am constantly learning, and although my main focus is urban forestry, I also get opportunities to experience just about every other focus area in forestry by helping with different efforts in the forest district.

Q: What skills are necessary to do your job well?

Communication skills are, by far, the most important.  When so much of my job is educating others, it is vital that I can effectively reach out and get my point across to those managing trees.  Other important skills include being self-disciplined and organized as oftentimes foresters work independently.  In addition, being a service forester requires you to be approachable since you are serving as an educational resource to the public.

Q: What advice do you have for current students?

Use your summers wisely!  There are a lot of different branches of forestry to explore and using summer internships and jobs to do so can be really eye-opening.  It’s a great way to try out different areas of the field and get to know different people and organizations.  Also, it is never too early to start networking.  The Forestry Society and “Treehouse” (Tau Phi Delta fraternity, which has a “Little Sisters” program) both provide valuable opportunities to meet and learn from people in the field.