Written by Gabe Donaldson
My first experience with the Forest Stewards Guild was over two years ago, when I began to rely on the Fire Management Team to help fill critical leadership and operational roles on prescribed fires I was helping to lead or organize. Since then I have watched the Fire Program expand into well-aligned, strategic arenas, maintaining their focus on the Guild’s overarching mission and strategy. As a partner to the Guild’s work, it has been a privilege to transition from my role as the Colorado/Arizona Fire Program Manager at The Nature Conservancy into a new role as an Assistant Director of Fire Management with the Guild.
My career in wildland fire started in 2000, when I watched the Cerro Grande Fire churn out smoke and ash over the campus of St. John’s College in Santa Fe. After seeing the outcomes of that fire, I decided that I needed be a firefighter and not a great books scholar, and soon found myself employed with the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. During my time with the Bureau of Land Management, I had the honor of leading a hotshot crew for 6 years as the Superintendent and had the amazing opportunity to respond to fire via parachute as a Smokejumper for 6 years. I also had the pleasure of taking an ecosystem management immersion program at UNLV, graduating in 2012. Most of my time has been spent throughout the Western US suppressing fires, until I got a job with The Nature Conservancy in 2016, when my focus shifted to prescribed fire implementation.
I am excited to be working for the Forest Stewards Guild and have already been surprised by how connected things are relative to my experience with larger organizations. I anticipate that my understanding of non-profit business management will increase with the Guild, and I hope to leverage existing partnerships and projects towards accomplishing work at a greater pace and scale. I was also drawn to the Guild’s position on diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice and believe strongly in promoting awareness for issues surrounding these topics.
It seems that we are always working these days, but when I can, I escape to my vegetable garden to prune tomatoes, or harvest zucchinis, peppers, onions, kale, etc. My three pit bulls, Mari, Bubba, and Daisy spend their days on individual beds in my home office, and my 5 year old son, Teaghan, is usually in need of my printer for his train-of-thought letters to grandparents, aunts and cousins. In the evenings I take web development lessons from my partner, Tara, and slowly chip away at my understanding of software engineering. My favorite band is LCD Soundsystem, well, maybe Built to Spill, it’s a toss-up, and my favorite food is probably green chile (because it goes with everything!). I am hooked on HBO, loved Watchmen, and my most recent favorite movie is A Quiet Place. Some of my favorite books are Angle of Repose, A Fools Progress, and On the Road.
It is a pleasure to be working for the Forest Stewards Guild and I am excited to be apart of such a wonderful and talented team!