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Women in Natural Resources: Meet Forest Manager Elizabeth Snider

Elizabeth Snider is the forest manager at NC State’s College of Natural Resources. She is a 2005 Master of Forestry alumna who returned in 2014 as a silviculturist before being promoted to forest manager in 2016. In her current position, Snider oversees a wide variety of forest management activities, including an ongoing effort to plant one of North Carolina’s most endangered tree species at the Carl Alwin Schenck Memorial Forest.

We recently spoke with Snider about her experience as a female in the field of natural resources. The following Q&A is a part of a Women’s History Month series highlighting the outstanding contributions female faculty and staff have made to the College of Natural Resources.

What has it been like as a female to study within your field and pursue your career?

I have been very fortunate to find this field, which has been exciting, challenging and rewarding. Part of the challenge is finding yourself in a male-dominated field, and at times, feeling you have to prove yourself. However, the men and women in our industry are some of the most personable and helpful people I have ever come across. I have not met anyone who was not willing to provide advice, discuss new ideas or share resources.

What challenges have you faced in pursuing your degree(s) and/or career? 

For my first forestry position working for the state of West Virginia, I had to go through a special law enforcement training. I was one female in a class of 20 [people], and I am forever grateful to my training partner at the time, who was the only man willing to train with me and “hit a girl” during self-defense classes. He helped me succeed and get the most out of the training. From there, I began as a young uniformed county forester and inspected logging operations. There were a few tough loggers and landowners that I had to stand up to, but many others who were very easy to work with and find compromise with. 

Do any have specific memories of experiences in your career that stick with you?

I had a wonderful experience as a student in the NC State Forest Management program, and I really enjoyed the required summer camp at Hill Forest. It has been interesting to come back as forest manager as a colleague to some of my favorite professors.

Tell us about someone who supported and encouraged you to pursue your work.

My late husband was my biggest supporter.  When I started my forestry career, he and I were applying for the same position, and the interviewer asked how we would handle it if one of us got the job. The interviewer divulged that my husband had answered that question saying that I was more qualified and that I should be hired. His confidence in me helped strengthen my own.

Why are you passionate about your work?

I love that my schedule shifts daily and I am doing something different every day and every week.

What advice would you give to young female professionals entering your field? 

There are so many directions to go; surely you will find your niche. Keep an open mind and conversations going.