HE SPEAKS FOR THE TREES
Having worked almost two years for the Florida Forest Service, Putnam County’s new forester is getting acclimated to the area and is eager to provide more insight into the agency’s services.
Conrad Wysocki began working as county forester Sept. 26 and spent his first two months getting to know local officials, reviewing practices and being assigned to local committees.
According to the forest service, county foresters are responsible for numerous tasks ranging from providing information about forested areas and local ordinances to making landowners aware of services that could benefit them to administering cost-sharing programs, among others functions.
Wysocki, who in January will have worked for the forest service for two years, said he initially found his new job a tad daunting but has since become more comfortable.
“It’s only stressful if you let it get to your head,” Wysocki said. “But now, I’m developing a routine. Now, I’m feeling pretty comfortable and eager.”
He said he is most eager about public outreach – to schools, landowners and public officials in the county.
There is a wealth of services from numerous forestry-related organizations available to local landowners. Being more involved with the public and private sectors would help get out that information, which could improve Putnam as a whole, he said.
Since taking his new position, Wysocki said, he has spoken with officials from St. Johns River State College about services his office provides. He said he plans to do the same with local kindergarten through 12th-grade schools to promote forestry jobs and explain how forestry affects people’s lives every day.
“I want to promote a better relationship with private landowners and the Florida Forest Service,” Wysocki said.
Prior to working in Putnam, Wysocki worked for the forest service in other capacities, mainly at Cary State Forest near Jacksonville.
Although Wysocki loves his work, he said, he happened upon forestry by chance when attending the University of Florida, where he was introduced to dendrology – the scientific study of trees.
After that, he fell in love, Wysocki said.
“I took a dendrology class,” he said. “And I thought that was pretty cool. I could go on hikes and nature walks and tell my friends and families what the different species are. It was basically, kind of, love at first sight.”
He said he hopes his passion makes him a better steward for Putnam and the forest service. The negative statistics about the county are well known, Wysocki said, but he sees signs of improvement in Putnam.
Assisting landowners with forestry advice, management plans and other services could accelerate that improvement, he said.
But the public outreach with which Wysocki is tasked could also serve a personal function, he said. During his time as forester, Wysocki said, he will likely talk to countless landowners, many of whom own land that’s been in their family for generations.
He said getting to know them and seeing things from their perspective could make him a better forester – and a better person.
“I didn’t grow up around forestry,” Wysocki said. “I just kind of fell into it. I’ll get a better idea of what their land means to them. If my presence can help Putnam County, I’m in it for the long run.”
For information on the Florida Forest Service, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.