Richard Shelfer, FL Forest Service ACES Enrollee

  • How did you become interested in working for the Forest Service and when did you start work for FS?

Growing up in rural North Florida, I spent my early years roaming the woods with my father and grandfather.  We hunted game, camped, picked berries, scouted tracks, fished and picked wildflowers.  I always felt comfortable and at peace in the outdoors.  My other early passion was art.  I received a degree in visual art, but never pursued a career in that field.  I was the definition of the starving artist.  After a series of jobs such as trail guide, social worker, retail sales, landscaping and selling farm equipment, my wife convinced me to return to college and study forestry.  My first job with the Forest Service was in 1979 as a residential supervisor with the Youth Conservation Corps on the National Forests in Florida.

  • What are some of your best memories of your Forest Service career?

My best memories come from early in my career as a forester on the Ocala National Forest in Florida.  This forest is one of the busiest in the southeast and every day was an adventure.  I prepared silvicultural prescriptions, marked timber, prepared and administered timber sales, prepared and administered reforestation contracts, inspected special use permits, helped to  monitor endangered species such as bald eagles, Florida scrub jay and red-cockaded woodpeckers, conducted prescribed burns, fought wildfires, flew aerial wildfire detection, worked in recreation areas, maintained trails, helped to survey and posted boundaries, and rode with law enforcement  I worked with a great group of people who shared ownership of their program areas and we all worked together to accomplish the priorities of the day.

  • What is your position with the Forest Service ACES Program?

I am a silvicultural mentor.  The forest silviculturist position has been vacant for some time and I am assisting staff and detailers in managing the silvicultural program for the National Forests in Florida until a permanent replacement arrives.  I am also assisting foresters on the Apalachicola National Forest by examining timber stands, updating records and recommending treatments.

  • What made you interested in coming back to the Forest Service in the FS ACES Program with NEW Solutions?

I had been retired for about six years when I heard about the ACES program.  I was not bored in retirement, but felt I needed a little more brain stimulation and interaction with younger people not to mention a little additional income.  The program also would provide a means to maintain some of my skills and gain some new ones.

  • What do like to do when you are not working?

I do volunteer work at my church and local Kiwanis Club.  I enjoy visiting and traveling with my family.  I take courses at the local university lifelong learning institute.  I am working on restoring my 1952 ford pickup truck and always have plenty of projects around the home to keep me busy.

  • If you could invite eight of the people you most admire to an imaginary campfire supper, who would they be?  (For example:  someone dead or alive; famous or infamous; celebrity or next door neighbor, etc.)

Mom, Dad, Mark Twain, Will Rogers, the Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus and Abraham.  My mother could cook the best meal from a campfire, my father was one of the best story-tellers and I think it would be entertaining for Mark Twain and Will Rogers to moderate and comment on conversations between the founders of some of the world’s religions.