New Column: Lessons Learned from a Career in Forestry 

February 19, 2020 

Building upon the success of the Future of SAF profiles, which allow up-and-coming members to share their thoughts on the future of the profession, The Forestry Source is launching a new column for seasoned members to share lessons learned from a career in natural resources. This month we are featuring Tom Fox, CF. Fox is vice-president for research, productivity, and sustainability for Rayonier. He joined SAF as a student in 1976 and is a member of the St. Johns chapter of the Southeastern SAF.

In his own words, Fox shares about the lifelong learning opportunities that forestry offers and the skills that every forester should possess.

Tom Fox: Have Passion for Your Work
By Tom Fox 

Many students ask questions about the different options in the forestry profession and what each career path entails. There are so many different career paths in forestry that there is literally something for everyone. You can be a field forester, GIS specialist, biostatistician, wildlife biologist, or financial guru. When I talk with students or new employees, and they ask me, “Where should my career go?”—nobody really has the answer. The advice I give is, “Have a passion for forestry and search for your niche, but also recognize that sometimes you won’t know where your career path is going to take you.”

Ask anybody to look back on their career and most of us will wonder, “How did I get here? Why did I take that road or go in that direction?” Skilled people who work hard tend to make their own good luck and do well. If you work hard, you can have a great, rewarding career—whether it’s in industry,academics, consulting, or the government, or even outside of forestry. You will do a lot of different things throughout your career Always evaluate your options and think about your opportunities—that’s the best advice I’ve been given.

Tom Fox can be contacted at

Students: do you have question you’d like to ask our seasoned members? If so, please e-mail them to, and they will be featured in an upcoming column.

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