July 27, 2023

    Exploring passions through experience, interning with Texas A&M Forest Service

    COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The most-asked question of college students is – “what are you going to do when you graduate?” For the lucky, what they do for a career is something they are passionate about it. 

    Helping students find and explore their passion in the natural resources industry is a pillar of Texas A&M Forest Service. One way of reaching that goal is by offering internship opportunities to students navigating the career path to gain valuable experience alongside expert professionals.

    Savanah Turner, an Environmental Sciences major attending Sam Houston State University, found her passion when her love for the outdoors was enhanced through an environmental sciences course that caused her to switch majors. 

    “I went through the first couple of years of college as a general studies major but when I took my environmental science class, I fell in love with it,” Turner said. “It was more time outside, which I loved, I got to do more and it just felt right.”

    This summer, Turner is interning for Texas A&M Forest Service in the Wildland Urban Interface program, soaking up every moment learning about the agency and natural resources industry. 

    While Turner found her passion in college, for others passion is more deeply rooted. 

    Alex Casavant, a junior at Texas A&M University majoring in Ecology & Conservation Biology under the Forest Resources track, says he learned to love forestry from his dad. 

    “He ran a carpentry business and made a lot of furniture with eastern red cedar and rustic barn wood,” said Casavant. “So just going out in the woods with him sparked my interest in the forest. I also want a job to have my boots on the ground and work outside as much as I can.”

    Ryan Burns, the agency’s internship program coordinator, said that the program’s goal is to allow interns to gain as much experience as possible. 

    “These interns are going to have opportunities that go way beyond what they would do in the private sector,” said Burns. “We try to get them involved with as many aspects of the agency as possible. This could include everything from forest management, wildfire prevention efforts, emergency response, and much more.”

    Turner and Casavant have both found that true during their summer at the agency.

    “I’m doing a little bit of everything and I’ve enjoyed every minute,” said Turner. “I’ve been taught by firefighters, been out to oak wilt site visits with foresters and woodland ecologists, helped with stewardship plans and even got to visit the State Operations Center in Austin.” 

    Burns, a former intern himself, said that the greatest experience during his internship was learning more about the agency. 

    “You are working 40 hours a week and also given what I call adult responsibilities,” said Burns. “Just the trust I got from my supervisor to have a state vehicle and do these real tasks really mattered. Not only was it a good experience, but it also showed me exactly what it felt like to potentially work for this agency.”

    Taking the leap from the classroom to the workforce is one of the greatest experiences gained through the internship program.

    “I really have learned and experienced a lot that you don’t get to see in the classroom,” said Casavant. “I have gone on many landowner visits. I’ve also visited logging jobs and some mills and learned the whole process of how you turn a tree into a two-by-four.”

    While the ultimate goal of the internship program is to help students gain experience and passion for the natural resources industry, it’s an added bonus when they wish to come back and join the agency full-time as Burns did. 

    “I’ve learned there's more to forestry than just logging, timber sales and timber cruising. It's a lot more about public relations and helping educate the public,” said Casavant. “For my career goals, I think I've decided that I definitely enjoy the public service aspect of forestry and working with the public so, a career with the agency would be something that I would look forward to.”

    To learn more about working for Texas A&M Forest Service and job opportunities, visit


    Texas A&M Forest Service Contacts:
    Communications Office, 979-458-6606,