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Natural Resources Student Headed for Career in Wildland Fire Ecology; Plans Transfer to OSU

UCC Natural Resources student Maggie Wheaton said an increase in wildfires impacting Southern Oregon was what led her to pursue a career path in Wildland Fire Ecology.

Wheaton grew up on her family farm in Douglas County and has remained there – tending to dairy cows, hogs, chicken, and sheep – while pursuing an Associate’s Degree of Science from UCC’s Natural Resources program. 

“I was initially interested in studying soil science, but once we started having more fires, particularly the Archie Creek Fire, I wanted to understand more about the science behind it. Why it was happening and how the land was affected after the fires.”

The UCC program led her a paid wildland firefighting internships for the past three summers for Douglas Forest Protective Association and she already has another planned summer internship this year in the forest industry.

Maggie credits the program’s top-notch instructors and curriculum, and excellent networking opportunities to her success thus far. She added that the convenience of taking remote courses helped her balance priorities at home on the farm.

She plans to transfer to Oregon State University’s College of Forestry next year to major in Natural Resources, with a specialty in Wildland Fire Ecology.

“Growing up here it was a natural transition for us to attend UCC,” she said. “The natural resources program was what I needed and the ease of being able to transfer to OSU made things work out well.”

The youngest of five children, Wheaton was active in 4-H and never considered leaving the rural lifestyle she grew up in.

“Southern Oregon has always been home,” she said. “Having access to so many outdoor activities has always been nice. And as an outdoors person, the UCC campus really is breathtaking. Being surrounded by so many trees makes you feel so close to nature.”

Maggie is using a John Deere Harvesting Simulator on campus at UCC to practice cutting and moving trees marked by a tree inventory crew using 3D modeling. The controls replicate the actual truck controls in a real John Deere harvester.
Maggie practices using a compass with her instructor Lace-Anna Rowe.

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