Skip to Main Content

FNR Field Report: Zane Smoldt

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.

Zane Smoldt, a junior forestry major with a concentration in forest management, worked as a forestry internZane Smoldt poses with Herbie the Hellbender at Ag Week 2023 on the Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources properties this summer.

Smoldt assisted the FNR foresters and property managers with property management, ranging from invasive species control to timber stand improvement (TSI), harvesting timber, forest inventory, writing timber sale contracts, and operating heavy equipment like tractors, skid steers, and a log skidder.

The West Lafayette native said the summer position, which he discovered at the FNR Career Fair in February, taught him many skills.

“I learned many things this summer, including how to apply silvicultural practices to timber stands, how to identify and control invasive plant species, the operation and maintenance of equipment like chainsaws and heavy machinery, how to safely and effectively cut down trees in many scenarios, as well as how to evaluate timber stands for characteristics like age, species composition, economic value, and overall health,” said Smoldt, who also is minoring in wood products and manufacturing technology. “This position made me very aware of the wide range of responsibilities and activities that property managers as well as district and state foresters deal with in their profession. I would say that it has helped me to gain an understanding of what positions will be available to me after college as well as what these positions will entail.”

In addition to the many skills Smoldt learned, he also was faced with the demands of the job and its hazards.

“One of the challenging parts about this internship was the responsibility put on us as interns,” Smoldt shared. “We were required to operate big machines and you had to make sure you were doing so very safely. Additionally, you had to make sound judgements when carrying out management objectives as you can’t put a tree back once its cut.”

Smoldt said some there were also many perks of the position.Zane Smoldt on the back of a log skidder

“My favorite parts of this job included being outside every day, getting to see a wide variety of properties all over the state that each needed a different management approach, learning how to operate a chainsaw and being able to cut down trees, and getting to drive big machines like the log skidder,” Smoldt said. “Another thing that stands out to me is the incredible people I got to work with. All of the FNR foresters really love what they do and they made sure to teach and help us understand many of the principles of forestry in this internship. I feel that I gained invaluable experience with property management this summer.”

Getting hands-on experience made classroom work come to life for Smoldt.

“I was able to apply many aspects of my FNR studies in this internship,” Smoldt explained. “For example, I was able to apply silvicultural knowledge that I gained at Summer Practicum as well as the ability to measure and record forest inventory data and statistics gained through taking FNR 353, Forest Measurements. Being able to take what I’ve been learning in the classroom and apply it to a physical environment was something that I really appreciated. Additionally, I had a lot of fun being able to operate chainsaws and the log skidder, tools that I don’t have regular access to now, but will more than likely have in my future career.”

Smoldt has gained other hands-on career experience during his undergraduate career, working with Niches Land Trust on some of their prescribed burnings.

As he looks to the future, Smoldt said he plans on becoming involved with the Society of American Foresters as well as the Purdue Student Society of Arboriculture this year. He already is an active staff member of Young Life, a local ministry organization that works with local high schools and middle schools in the Greater Lafayette area.

As for his career plans, Smoldt says he hopes to work out West in wildland firefighting right after college and eventually thinks he will transition to a role like a consulting forester or state forester when he is ready to be done working in the fire sector.

A collage of photos from Zane Smoldt's summer as a forestry intern. Top row (Left to right): Smoldt and Andrew Tucker learn from FNR forester Don Carlson about regeneration openings; Zane and Andrew touring the Indiana DNR fire headquarters; Zane and Andrew touring the lumber mill at Morgan-Monroe State Forest; Zane, Andrew and fellow intern Mikaela Agresta with FNR forester Don Carlson. Row 2: Andrew, Zane and Don Carlson; Zane on the back of a log skidder; Zane and Andrew working with UTVs doing invasive control work; a view of one of the FNR properties. A collage of photos from Zane Smoldt's summer as a forestry intern. Top row (Left to right): Smoldt and Andrew Tucker learn from FNR forester Don Carlson about regeneration openings; Zane and Andrew touring the Indiana DNR fire headquarters; Zane and Andrew touring the lumber mill at Morgan-Monroe State Forest; Zane, Andrew and fellow intern Mikaela Agresta with FNR forester Don Carlson. Row 2: Andrew, Zane and Don Carlson; Zane on the back of a log skidder; Zane and Andrew working with UTVs doing invasive control work; a view of one of the FNR properties.

Featured Stories

Purdue's bell tower stands tall behind a foreground of purple petunias
Purdue agriculture professors named AAAS Fellows

Purdue College of Agriculture professors Songlin Fei and Tesfaye Mengiste have been named fellows...

Read More
Jingjing Liang stands tall in front of a wall of monitors showing pictures of different forests.
Scientists from dozens of countries coming to Purdue for forestry collaboration in Science-i Bridging Worlds Workshop

In the spirit of building a community to manage and protect the world’s forests, Liang and...

Read More
A landscape photo of a pond and the surrounding forest area at the Southeastern Purdue Agricultural Center where Dr. Bryan Pijanowski's lab has set up sensors and microphones to monitor wildlife before, during and after the solar eclipse.
Center for Global Soundscapes Study Will Record How Animals Respond to Solar Eclipse

The upcoming solar eclipse on April 8 has drawn the attention of scientists and the general...

Read More
Team SoySilk members holding the first-place prize check at the 2024 competition ceremony.
Purdue celebrates three decades of soybean innovation

From winning products like soy-based candles and styrofoam to chewing gum, for 30 years the...

Read More
The Milnes Family Farm - photos of the forest and the agricultural space with a barn
Purdue Alumni Couple Funds Forestry Internship Program

Vince Milnes grew up spending time on the family farm in Brown County, Indiana, owned by his...

Read More
Jarred Brooke gives a presentation on forest management for deer
Ohio River Valley Woodlands and Wildlife Workshop Offers Chance to Learn From Extension Specialists

Do you want to learn how to get the most out of your property? Make plans to attend the 2024 Ohio...

Read More
To Top