Book higlights women in Forest Service: Local author shares perspective of women in Forest Service

Lauren Turner hopes to give women an exclusive look at the career opportunities available to women in the U.S. Forest Service with her book “Outdoor Women Inside the Forest Service.”

After a 30-year career in the U.S. Forest Service, Turner wrote a book with the hope that it would inspire other women to find a fulfilling career in the agency.

Her book was released on Nov. 15 and offers a brief history and review of women employed in the agency from 1971-2018. It also profiles the biographies of 41 other women she interviewed and their roles in the agency.

“The stories are a celebration of women,” Turner said.

“I worked my entire career with some extraordinary women and wanted to know what made them tick and make them want to do this kind of work.”

While she puts the focus on many other women’s careers, her story is not one to be overlooked among them.

Turner held several clerical jobs when she started working for the agency, as those were the most common jobs offered to women in the 1970s. Her first job was an entry-level clerical position in West Yellowstone, Montana.

Turner’s book says the Forest Service was established in 1905 and for the next 60-70 years was dominantly staffed by men in the production of harvest and timer.

“Women were rarely hired and (the agency) decided they made good clerks and hired them as clerks,” she said.

Turner grew up in the outdoors in Yosemite National Park in California and felt she had more to offer than just serving clerical roles.

“I was outdoorsy to begin with,” she said. “I grew up in a time when women had certain roles, but I had a drive to do other things. My family was traditional and I took clerical positions, but felt like I wanted to do something else.”

Turner says it was the civil rights and environmental movements in the 1960s and 70s that changed the status quo for women working in the agency.

“It wasn’t until the 1960s-1970s when the laws started changing,” she said.

Turner was one of many women who saw this change as an opportunity, she said, and through the agency she completed a degree in biological science, which qualified her to hold more professional jobs in the field.

She then became a wildlife biologist and was promoted several times throughout her career, including ecosystem manager, and she retired as a district ranger, where she oversaw many employees under her jurisdiction.

“It was challenging,” she said.

“(Women) were right there with (men) backing them up and working and so it evolved through the years.”

While she faced challenges, she says her career also was rewarding and allowed her to travel throughout the nation for work, from Montana to California to West Virginia, and back to Yellowstone where she retired.

Working women

During her interviews with other women, she found similarities among them, such as a love of the outdoors, and the belief that their stories can pave the way for other women in the future.

“My primary purpose is to document the contribution of women in a personal and informative way,” she said. “To show other women who might want to be in the U.S. Forest Service what that might be like.”

One of the women’s biographies she features in her book include Kristine Fairbanks, a local U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer from Forks, who was killed in the line of duty near Sequim in 2008.

Turner said she was the first law enforcement officer of any gender for the Olympic National Forest, and she started its first K-9 officer program during her tenure.

She also includes a biography of Abigail Kimbell, the first female chief of the U.S. Forest Service, who also writes the forward in Turner’s book.

“The bulk of the book is 42 biographies of women who occupied various outdoor positions at various levels,” she said.

“My intent was to make sure in those stories they told details of what their job entailed so other women could see what their jobs were like.”

Turner retired to Sequim in 2010 with her husband and said she always tried to get a job in the region. She says she tries to get out and enjoy different areas when she can.

How to order the book

“Outdoor Women inside the Forest Service” can be ordered through Amazon or through the publisher, McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company.

The book is listed at $29.95 but can be purchased with a special offer through the publishing company at $20.95 per copy through January 2019.

To contact McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, call 760-641-2691 or 800-233-8787 or email orders@mwpubco.com for questions, additional information or to place an order.

Orders also can be placed by mail and sent to: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 695 Tall Oaks Drive, Newark, Ohio, 43055.

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