(Donated photo: ) Amelia ‘Mimi’ MacDonald, Haywood Community College 2017 Forest Management graduate, is pictured at work in the field. She is currently completing a bachelor’s degree at WCU and will then work for the U.S. Forest Service.

When Amelia ‘Mimi’ MacDonald started her educational journey at Haywood Community College, she had the ultimate goal of a career with the U.S. Forest Service. After completing the Forest Management Technology program in 2017, she gained work experience in the field and returned to the classroom to work toward a bachelor’s degree. 

While MacDonald is still completing requirements at Western Carolina University, she recently learned that her hard work has already paid off. After finishing her bachelor’s degree, her dream of working for the U.S. Forest Service is guaranteed. Through the U.S. Forest Service’s Pathways Program, MacDonald will have the choice to work anywhere in the U.S. with a full-time permanent job assured.     

MacDonald is quick to acknowledge that her time at HCC helped her tremendously. “When I started at WCU, I knew I was ahead of the game,” she explains. “At HCC, we spent a lot of time in the woods, using the tools. Making the connections and gaining experience while I was a student there gave me experience and credibility that I would not have had otherwise.”

After finishing HCC, MacDonald worked for a year and a half as Assistant County Ranger for Cabarrus County with the NC Forest Service. She describes the job as all encompassing. Her duties ranged from site preparation, planting trees and inventory for private landowners to hands-on forest management, working on wildfires and prescribed burns and presenting at schools and fairs.

“I learned about all these things at HCC but had no idea how much I would use them,” MacDonald says.

When MacDonald had the opportunity to move back to the mountains and get a four-year degree, she took it. At WCU, she will get a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation and Management with a focus in Forest Resources. Since she already has a degree from HCC, she will finish the program in two years.

As an intern in the Pathways Program, MacDonald has worked as a student trainee in biological sciences in the Nantahala District. She has enjoyed getting a taste of what a job with the U.S. Forest Service would offer by working on prescribed burns and silvaculture.

“I am very proud and confident in what I am doing,” MacDonald explains. “I took the steps to get where I am. I have the work experience and the education. I don’t think I would be where I am now without HCC.” 

HCC’s Forest Management Technology program prepares students to manage and produce forest resources. Much of the time students spend in the program include hands-on experience out in the field.

For more information about HCC’s Forest Management Technology program, please visit haywood.edu or call 828-627-4560.