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FNR Field Report: Andrew Tucker

Students from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources took their classroom knowledge to the field for summer internships and paid positions across the country, gaining valuable experience, hands-on training and career guidance. The FNR Field Reports series will offer updates from those individuals as summer positions draw to a close.Andrew Tucker holds a chainsaw near a tree he felled as part of timber stand improvement work.

Andrew Tucker, a junior forestry major with a concentration in sustainable biomaterials and a minor in environmental policy, spent the summer as a forestry intern for the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources after learning about the position at the FNR Career Fair.

In the position, Tucker was responsible for proper chainsaw usage and maintenance, timber stand improvement, tree plantation upkeep, mowing and maintenance of rows/trails, production cutting of trees, skidding, marking trees for sales, writing contracts, and invasive control with backpack sprayers, UTVs, and stump spraying.

The Valparaiso, Indiana, native was able to learn new skills as well as apply lessons learned from his FNR classwork.

“I learned more things than I can describe here - everything from the impacts of managing a huge tract of land to the small and useful everyday tasks like maintaining equipment and basic safety,” Tucker said. “We learned so much in such a short amount of time and were able to actually utilize what we were taught, not just be demonstrated to. We used our identification skills almost constantly, and we could make estimates of stocking levels/density using the skills taught to us by Dr. Fei in his forest measurements class.”

The hands-on learning and time with colleagues made the work enjoyable for Tucker.Andrew Tucker and his fellow forestry interns learned how to safely operate heavy equipment this summer

“Anytime I got behind a chainsaw was a lot of fun,” Tucker said. “We all got familiar with our tools and it got more and more satisfying every time we utilized them. There were some hot and humid days under the forest canopy, but even going through the suck with good coworkers can be a lot of fun. No matter what we did, even when things didn’t go our way, I felt like at the end of the day we could look back at the work we did and feel like we made a real, tangible impact on the landscape.”

Tucker worked as a general assistant for Dr. Eva Haviarova and Dr. Rado Gazo in the Wood Research Lab his freshman year and said he learned a lot of good skills and connections in that position as well.

Tucker is currently the vice president of the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture (PSSA) and also served as the group’s secretary in 2022-23. He also is a member of the Purdue student chapter of the Society of American Foresters.

As for what the future may hold, Tucker isn’t limiting his options.

“I’m keeping a very open mind about what I want to do after graduation because every aspect of forestry I’ve been introduced to so far I could see myself doing long term,” Tucker shared.

Top row (Left to Right): Andrew Tucker with a chainsaw next to a tree he felled; Andrew cutting on a tree with Don Carlson looking on; Andrew with Zane Smoldt and Don Carlson; Zane and Andrew touring the lumber mill at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Row 2: Zane and Andrew touring the Indiana DNR fire headquarters. Row 3: Andrew running heavy equipment; Zane, Andrew and fellow intern Mikaela Agresta with FNR forester Don Carlson; Andrew and Zane doing timber stand improvement work; Zane and Andrew working with UTVs doing invasive control work. Top row (Left to Right): Andrew Tucker with a chainsaw next to a tree he felled; Andrew cutting on a tree with Don Carlson looking on; Andrew with Zane Smoldt and Don Carlson; Zane and Andrew touring the lumber mill at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Row 2: Zane and Andrew touring the Indiana DNR fire headquarters. Row 3: Andrew running heavy equipment; Zane, Andrew and fellow intern Mikaela Agresta with FNR forester Don Carlson; Andrew and Zane doing timber stand improvement work; Zane and Andrew working with UTVs doing invasive control work.

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