Shane Baker, HCC Forest Management Technology student, realizes that sometimes to get where you want to go, you have to take the long way around. But the lessons learned along the way have been worth the journey. After high school, Shane was like many people in their late teens, he didn’t know what he wanted to do. His dad always told him he would probably like a job outdoors. But Shane wasn’t sold on the idea. He attended UNC-Chapel Hill where he received a Bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications with a specialization in graphic design.
He worked for five years at a print/advertising company, first in quality control then as a graphic designer. During this time, his dad was sick and when he died, Shane began asking himself what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. “I just didn’t feel like I was where I wanted to be,” he explains.
It was then he remembered his dad’s advice of working outside. “I started reevaluating my whole life and started researching forestry. I knew what I needed was technical training. I had heard that a community college gave that kind of education. I also knew after attending a university that it was only a two year investment.”
When Shane visited HCC, he liked it immediately. He felt at home. “I chose HCC because it is in the middle of national forests and parks. It is the perfect location for volunteering and internships. And HCC has a reputation for placing people in jobs.”
Since Shane started school at HCC, he has spent a lot of time volunteering. He volunteers with the US Forest Service in the Grandfather District where he has worked in the timber and silvaculturist departments. He also volunteers with the Bent Creek Experimental Forest where he helps with studies on fire ecology and oak decline. This past summer, Shane had an internship with the US Forest Service Tusquitee Ranger District in Murphy. He worked in the recreation department where he was introduced to many aspects of the forest service such as law enforcement, timber marking, and trail maintenance.
Shane also volunteers for the Lake Junalsuka Volunteer Fire Department. He works with Haywood Early College’s Envirothon Team, tutors in the college’s Teaching and Learning Center, is vice president of the HCC Forestry Club, is a representative with the Society of American Foresters, and competes with the HCC timbersports team. He has also volunteered with HCC instructor Blair Bishop’s private consulting business and last year was the public information officer with the Student Government Association. This fall, he will continue working with the Tusquitee District on GIS related projects.
Shane, who finished high school in Asheboro, says as student that has been in a career, he is more focused. “I realize what I need to do to make the most of my time while I’m at HCC. My family is very supportive and the instructors here go out of their way to help you. There are many resources here for students.”
Shane stresses how important it is to reinforce what is taught in the classroom by volunteering and making contacts. He is happy with the road he has finally settled on and plans to continue to enjoy the ride.More Student Stories