Fred Wong, District Ranger

Fred Wong, District Ranger

I started my career as a seasonal field technician primarily with bird surveys. I wanted to work for a land management agency because I like working in the great outdoors and care about natural resources. I got my first permanent job with the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma, Arizona, as a wildlife biologist. I did satisfying riparian restoration that made a difference. After 7 years, I was ready for a change. I got a job with the Forest Service on Tonto National Forest in Phoenix, Arizona, as the forest wildlife program lead.

I never aspired to be a district ranger like most current district rangers. I first considered a district ranger job when a fellow member of APAEA told me that she took a detail as a district ranger, and she enjoyed her experience. I always thought being a district ranger would not be the right fit for me because it involved politics and human resources issues, but I decided to try it out. In 2013, I was successful at getting a district ranger detail on the Stanislaus National Forest. I enjoyed the detail, and I was successful at getting the permanent position at the same location. There are certainly negative aspects about the job, but the positives often outweigh the negatives. As a district ranger, I learned about all Forest Service programs, including timber, hydrology, range, fire, public affairs, budget, and human resources. The learning curve was initially steep, and it was challenging to learn all the programs.

I am learning how to effectively interact with different types of people. I discovered as a district ranger, it is more about relationships and people. It is quite challenging at times because I am more of a “thinker” rather than a “feeler”, but I am learning to adapt and embrace the challenges. The district ranger position helps you grow as a person by helping you develop unfamiliar sides of yourself to interact with a variety of people internally (Forest Service employees) and externally (other agencies, permitees, public).

There are not many APA district rangers in the Forest Service. Perhaps it is because many APA don’t consider a district ranger job to be a good fit. For me, I tend to be an introverted thinker, and my natural tendencies seem contrary to the position. But this position allowed me a great opportunity to grow as a leader, and allows me to create positive change that can impact many.

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