Graduate Forester, Applied Forest Management
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA
On Her Mark, Get Ready…..
Martha Beninger received two pieces of career advice from her parents: Her father, a medical doctor, stressed the pursuit of a fine education. Her mother, a lawyer, told Martha to find something she loved and to have fun doing it.
She decided to honor both parents. A Cal Poly graduate, Beninger is a graduate forester for Applied Forest Management in Grass Valley. She assists licensed foresters and hopes to eventually become a Registered Professional Forester. She is starting out by marking trees among other things.
“It’s a balance of art and science,” she says while putting on work boots and tucking her hair neatly into her cap. “The ‘science part’ involves knowing which trees to harvest to improve growing conditions for the rest of the trees and enhance wildlife habitat, while the “artistic” part of it makes you ask yourself, ‘How do we want this part of the forest to look years from now?’’’
A former East Coast resident, Martha was always enchanted with the outdoors and loved hiking with her parents. She joined the Girl Scouts and savored overnight camping trips. Later, she decided on a forestry major at Cal Poly. It was love at first class.
“The more I went through my classes, the more I realized how cool forest management was,” says Beninger. “I started out thinking forestry was great and it grew from there.”
In her current job, Beninger follows a Timber Harvest Plan (THP) developed by a licensed forester and uses different colors to mark trees before harvest operations. One color indicates a tree to be removed, another identifies seed trees, and another indicates trees that should not be harvested. She may spend days or even weeks on a site carefully marking trees.
“It’s important to understand the forester’s vision,” she says. “I’m helping execute a plan and shaping the future of a forest.”
Beninger will continue to follow mom and dad’s advice – learn a lot and have fun. In addition to becoming a Registered Professional Forester, Beninger plans to focus on educating others. “I want more kids to know about forestry and forest management, and understand that it is a positive thing.”
For now, she’s content to be outdoors, making her mark. “It’s awesome and fun. And every lunch you have is a picnic in the woods!”