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Student Spotlight: Rachel Burris

Forest Management major Rachel Burris driving a bulldozer as part of the CNR Work Crew

Forest Management major Rachel Burris is part of the College of Natural Resources Work Crew, a group of students that help manage the college’s teaching and research forests. She also recently completed her 9-week Summer Camp experience at Hill Forest near Durham, N.C. Summer Camp is a full-time residential immersion experience required for all Forest Management majors to apply classroom concepts to field experiences. In her time between classes, Burris is also the Woodsman Captain for Forestry Club, where she competes in the Timbersports competitions, and an active member of Chi Alpha.

Tell us about your hands-on experiences.

This past summer, I was at the 9-week Summer Camp. We spent 7 weeks at the Hill forest, one week at the coast in the Croatan National Forest and the last week in the mountains at the Pisgah National Forest. I learned a lot in a short amount of time and most of the information I learned at Summer Camp, I use regularly in the classes I am taking, such as calculating basal area, trees per acre, volumes, etc. I also got to see a lot of different places and meet new people, including several people who work in the Forestry field. I learned a lot more about careers and companies to work for from them.

Since August 2016, I have been on the student Work Crew. I mainly work at the Schenck and Hill forests, where I’ve done just about anything related to forest management, including regular maintenance, marking stand boundaries and plowing fire lines. I also learned to operate a bulldozer, a variety of tractors, a manual truck and a fire engine. Any opportunity where I can learn something new about Forestry or acquire a new skill, is interesting to me, but operating equipment has always interested me the most.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that I am definitely in the right major. Everything in Forestry interests me. The more classes I take, the more interested I am. There isn’t just one experience, it’s a combination between my classes, field trips to logging jobs and mills, and participating in the Work Crew.

How have these opportunities prepared you for your future career?

I’ve gained a lot of new skills through both Work Crew and Summer Camp. Both experiences have really helped me build my resume and skillset.

What did you enjoy the most about your experiences?

I enjoyed learning new skills the most. Out of both experiences, learning to drive a bulldozer was the most enjoyable.

Any advice to incoming students?

Get involved. Find your interest and pursue it 100 percent.

What do you enjoy most about being a College of Natural Resources student?

I like the close-knit community within the College of Natural Resources. Everyone is nice and easy to talk to.