The Future of SAF: Rachel Murray

March 11, 2020

Continuing with profiles of up-and-coming SAF members, this month The Forestry Source features Rachel Murray. Murray is an undergraduate studying forestry, with an emphasis in urban forestry, at Stephen F. Austin State University. She joined SAF in 2017 and is a member of both the Stephen F. Austin student chapter and the Dallas At-Large chapter.

In her own words, Murray shares the challenge of learning the Latin names of trees and why she loves the SAF community.

Rachel Murray: My Journey in Forestry
By Rachel Murray

How I found forestry
Growing up, I had the wonderful opportunity to be immersed in the field of natural sciences. Throughout my childhood, I went to various science museums, visited state and national parks, watched nature documentaries, and played outside every chance I got. When it was time to declare a major, I wanted a degree involving trees and ecology. Going to Stephen F. Austin State University has been a blessing, because the forestry program has allowed me to grow and find my true passion and potential in this field. I will be graduating in May with a bachelor of science in forestry, with an emphasis in urban forestry. After graduation, I plan to continue my education by working toward a master of science in environmental science.

Making forestry more accommodating

The road to finishing my undergraduate degree has been made more difficult by my dyslexia. In my college career, I have taken four classes that require me to identify 10 and more plants and trees, which, of course, required me to spell their Latin names. As someone who struggled to say and spell loblolly right, this seemed like an impossible task. Nevertheless, I approached the challenge head on and, thankfully, I had professors willing to accommodate me. With the needed accommodations, I learned the material, shared what I knew, and passed the classes. Today, I am confident in my identification skills and love to show non-foresters the beauty of trees and their Latin names.

Having a discussion on accommodating individuals with disabilities would benefit the forestry community. As we welcome people of different backgrounds, we need to include those who have learning, physical, and mental disabilities. As I meet more people in the profession and attend the national conventions, I have noticed how broad our forestry community is and how there are many types of jobs in forestry. There are jobs in our field that can be done with a disability, if the right accommodations are offered. I look forward to seeing the prospects offered to me and others with disabilities, and I’m excited about where my future with the forestry industry and SAF will take me.

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