Rachel Pennebaker (BS Geology, 2008)

Forestry Technician in Cle Elum, Washington

My last update had me working on the fire crew for the forest service in Cle Elum and living in good ol' Ellensburg. Not much has changed, except that after 7 years as a seasonal employee, I now have a permanent appointment (benefits, retirement, desk, the works!)!! I work for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest on the Cle Elum Ranger District in the Timber Department, as a Presale Timber Forestry Technician. I layout logging units, post and gps boundaries, mark leave trees and cut trees, and cruise timber for lumber quality and volume, and help with initial logging plans and feasibility. I basically have a hand in everything that happens with a timber sale BEFORE it is sold to the purchaser for logging. I LOVE what I do and I love working in beautiful Kittitas County. Ellensburg is my home and I finally realized that after completing 3 seasons on the fire crew, and thinking I needed a 'real job' and a change of scenery.

So in the winter of 2010, I briefly moved to the Tri-Cities and got a job working for Freestone Environmental as a well-site geologist at Hanford. It was fun down there and all (met some great people, made some cash, learned a whole heap load, worked with plenty of other CWU Geology Alum) but the mountains, trees and manual labor of the Forest Service still had my heart. So, after being briefly saddened from an unexpected lay-off, I packed up and moved home in time for the 2011 field season with the Forest Service and a position on the timber crew. After working for a few months, I received a phone call from GRAM Inc. offering me a part-time, as needed job as a well site geologist, also at Hanford. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to work Fridays with all my old geo and driller buddies. That only lasted till the end of 2011 though.

Now, I am solely a timber ground pounder, mostly working Mondays thru Thurdays. 4-10's. Unless the county is hit with crazy lightning and starts fires all over our district, in that case, I still get to go out with the fire crew and work my butt off punching in hot line and doing burnouts to try to save the woods. Those opportunities help keep my inner adrenaline junkie full-filled. But my normal schedule leaves me plenty of time to enjoy Ellensburg with my boyfriend, Cody, and our dog, Sydnee Mae while hiking, golfing, camping, fishing, snowmobiling, and running.

I wouldn't trade my time at Central for anything! Most of my best friends are Central Geology Alumni. I am so thankful for the fabulous education I received and the support from my geology family of friends and staff. I thoroughly enjoy that our major has allowed me so many great opportunities to stay where I love - THE OUTDOORS! We shall see what the future brings me - but I'm pretty content and happy where I am right now.

Information last updated on Dec 17, 2012