Per Frisk: The Nature Conservancy Volunteer to Burn Technician Position


A little about me: My name is Per Frisk and I graduated this past May with a major in Environmental Sciences and minor in Forest Management, and began work a week later.

Successful burn in the Sandhills

I’m glad I decided to dive right into work upon graduating as I’ve gained a ton of experience so far and have been able to start paying off my student loans. My focal area is in Forest Management and I went through the Forestry Summer Camp last year (2016), which lasted 10 weeks and challenged all of us inside the classroom as well as outside in the field from sun up to sun down each day. But it gave me a better idea of what I would be getting myself into and we received our Type II Wildland Firefighting certificates during fire week at camp. I enjoyed that part of camp a lot and I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to use my certificate by volunteering with The Nature Conservancy throughout my senior year at NC State. So I joined them for a few burns and took another fire class on campus instructed by Robert Mickler, where we read, studied, and gave presentations on peer-reviewed research papers

Immediate post burn performed in Calloway Forest of The Nature Conservancy

dealing with the effects and history of fire across the different landscapes and ecosystems in the U.S. Robert Mickler AKA Bob was also present on the TNC fires I volunteered on, which was nice to have someone to guide me and mentor me during my learning phase of prescribed burns. A position became available for the summer burn crew, which I applied for in March/April, and with the help of a good word put in by Bob, I was hired as a burn technician with the Sandhills agency of The Nature Conservancy’s Fire Management Crew. It has been a great experience thus far, and I was offered extended work through the off-season to help do TSI (Timber Stand Improvement) until the dormant burn season rolls around, which will begin in November.


My experience so far has been performing prescribed burns in longleaf pine woodlands in

The same stand 5-day post burn

the Sandhills region of NC. We were contracted to help the Wildlife Resources Commission perform RX burns on the Gamelands surrounding Camp Mackall, an active U.S. Army training facility in Richmond County, NC. More recently, I have joined the Wilmington crew to assist in longleaf pine management operations with the NC State Parks in Jones Park of Elizabethtown, NC and the Green Swamp Preserve of The Nature Conservancy right outside of Wilmington, NC.


So my plans after November are to continue working for The Nature Conservancy in the Sandhills burning with the winter crew. I have already been offered the position.  As far

Per Frisk

as down the road, I am strongly considering going out west to fight wildfires for a season next spring. I am still not quite sure what my ultimate career goal is as far as whether I will stay in fire management or try to branch off and get some experience in forestry consulting/mensuration, etc. But I do enjoy working in conservation and it is very rewarding from an environmental standpoint. I would also like to get oversees to Europe and do some forestry work or possibly graduate school in Scandinavia. I have family there so it would be nice to live and work there for a bit. But coming back to the present moment, the doors have been opened and I have gotten my foot through so I feel like I’m off to a great start thanks to my experiences and guidance from everybody at NC State 🙂 I hope to continue to live and learn as much as I can.