Meet Seth Harden

Seth Harden, BS ForestryBS Forestry 2010, Minor NRES

While at Purdue. . .
I studied and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry. I also earned a minor in Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES) in the Department of Agronomy. I really enjoyed my classes in policy, spatial analysis, plant science, and soil science.

While an undergraduate, I also participated in the Leadership Development Certificate Program. This is an intensive program open to all students in the College of Agriculture. It supplements a Purdue education in every way and adds to the marketability of any student who participates. Through the program I developed as a leader and built a large network of peers and professionals across the nation..

As a student I had the opportunity to participate in an internship each of my four summers. I spent one summer with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture’s Division of Soil Conservation working in policy and natural resource management in central Indiana.

The following three summers I participated in the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). I had the opportunity to work in a separate county each of my three summers within the northwest region of the state. The USDA NRCS has a wealth of knowledge and experience in its trainers, employees, and leadership. This not only helped me secure a full time job with NRCS, but also supplemented my education while I was still at Purdue.

I am currently a Soil Conservationist. . .
with the USDA NRCS in Washington County, Indiana. I work with forest owners, landowners, and farmers everyday to develop conservation plans on their property to protect their resources, improve efficiency and profitability, and promote overall watershed health. The public service and government sector provides a wealth of experience, an unmatched knowledge base, and a fulfilling career. Students don’t often look to state or federal government for jobs, but they should consider that it has thousands of jobs with countless different job descriptions that need to be filled by high-achieving students, like those from Purdue.

I had the opportunity to see forests. . .
while earning my Forestry degree in the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, not just off campus, but even in different states. The Purdue Summer Practicum in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan was an incredible experience that allowed me and other students to see every aspect of the forest industry. We saw pulp production, the inside of a hardwood lumber mill, and logging operations. Michigan is unique in that it includes central hardwoods and coniferous forests. It also demonstrates the sheer size of some tracts of forest. Being from central Indiana, I am use to small privately owned woodlands and tree plantings. I was impressed with the scale and scope of the forestry industry there. Through some field experience in my silviculture, forest management, and mensuration courses, I also saw the potential of Indiana’s forests and tree plantations. The majority of forests in Indiana are privately owned and it is important that foresters and wildlife biologists graduating with a degree from Purdue be able to see Indiana’s natural resource potential and be trained to work with these landowners.Fjodland National Park

I have worked in everything from old-growth to plantation Black Walnut and I still am awed by the complexity of the environment. Forests are our greatest renewable natural resource and I believe that management of healthy, sustainable forests may be the answer to many of the world’s problems. Managed forests can provide an endless supply of wood for structures and provide food and nutrition to people all over the world. It isn’t about saving all the trees, OR cutting all the trees. It needs to be a “cut one, plant two” mentality. This lesson in sustainability and management may be the most important thing I learned at Purdue.

I spent one semester studying abroad. . .
in New Zealand and this helped me understand the wealth of native forests we have here in the Midwest and United States. New Zealand also built my understanding of how I can use international education and experience to influence local and regional resource decisions. The new generation of Kiwis have an appreciation for their natural resources and often demonstrate the stewardship that we can all learn from.

An education at Purdue University, in the College of Agriculture and Forestry and N​​atural Resources Department. . .
is truly challenging, rewarding, and world class. I encourage all future students and current students to talk to an FNR advisor, alumni or student to see if Purdue and FNR are right for you.

I encourage any potential, future, or current student to contact me to talk about my experience and how FNR can fit their life goals. My email is

Photo credits: Fjordland National Park occupies the southwest corner of the South Island of New Zealand. It is the largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand, with an area of 12500 km squared, and a major port of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. The park is administered by the Department of Conservation. (photo by New Zealand Cruises)

View article, Seth Harden shares opportunities available in FNR student organizations.


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