Zach Wood

Authored by Zach Wood

I am a student at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College where I am pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resource Conservation. I am still exploring my career options in the natural resource management field. For this reason, I have taken the spring semester off to work as a land management technician with The Orianne Society.

I applied for the position in hopes of gaining experience while networking with professionals within my field of study. This position has exceeded my expectations, and it has definitely given me an idea of what land management is about. The experience and knowledge that Brannon Knight, Orianne’s Stewardship Coordinator, has given me is invaluable.

I was given the opportunity to obtain Firefighter Type II certification, and thus far, I have been on 30 days of prescribed fires and have assisted in burning 3,778 acres. These fires have given me more experience with prescribed fire than I could have gained anywhere else in that amount of time. I have learned so much more than I expected, and I have a new appreciation for land management and fire management techniques.

Working on the Orianne Indigo Snake Preserve has allowed me to study fire’s effects on a tract of land where I have observed tracts before a prescribed fire has taken place and watched as they recovered from this mimicked natural disturbance. This has given me a new awareness of how powerful and important fire is to these ecosystems—the positive impact fire has on the land cannot be told, it has to be observed.

Though prescribed fire has been the main aspect of my job with The Orianne Society, I have also gained experience with other aspects of land management. I have done everything from Longleaf Pine seedling survival counts to herbicide application. Interacting with other agencies and organizations has helped me develop professional relationships, which should help me find a promising career upon completion of my degree. It was a difficult decision to take a semester off from school, but I believe getting this first-hand experience with The Orianne Society is crucial to a successful future career.

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