By Lon Tegels
College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Arkansas Forest Resources Center
U of A System Division of Agriculture
• UAM, Arkansas Division of Forestry awards Foresters for the Future Scholarship
• Kyle Pomes Gets Hooked on Forestry Career
• Scholarship Winner Shylee Head finds Growth in Forestry Career
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MONTICELLO, Arkansas — It’s a fish story that changed the direction of a career. Kyle Pomes of Texarkana, Arkansas, said he originally had aspirations of becoming a firefighter or land surveyor. Fishing with a family friend led to a conversation that caused him to change his mind. Pomes not only caught fish that day; he also became hooked on a career in forestry. While fishing with a member of the Texarkana Bass Club, he met Ray Galloway. Galloway is a forestry consultant with Davis, Dubose and Knight Forestry. When it came time for Pomes to go to college and pursue a career, Galloway suggested a career in forestry. He told Pomes, “I really enjoy what I do every day and don’t dread getting up and going to work. I think it’ssomething that would interest you.”
That lead to a summer internship in 2022 with Davis, Duboseand Knight. Pomes said he spent the summer doing everything from measuring forest inventories to marking timber. Pomes said, “I enjoyed talking to owners about their land and their concerns. I learned about what timber is marketable and profitable.” He added, “It kept me outside and I really enjoyed it.”
In January Pomes was awarded the Arkansas Foresters for the Future Scholarship. The scholarship provides $4,000 per semester for four years, to an incoming freshman pursuing a forestry degree at University of Arkansas at Monticello’s (UAM) College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources. This marks the second year for the scholarship to be awarded.
Pomes attended Texarkana High School and graduated fourthout of his class of 300 students with a 4.2 grade-point average. He said he was always involved with agriculture and engineering classes. He enrolled in dual enrollment college level classes, getting some of the basic general education classes out of the way. “I went and worked with Galloway, and I was like, you know, I really enjoy this. I know this is something I would love to do every day” Pomes said. “I woke up every day for three months of my summer and I never once dreaded getting up to go to work.” Kyle also pursues his passion for fishing while at UAM, competing on the UAM Bass Team within the College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.
After receiving the scholarship, Pomes said Arkansas ForestryDivision Director Joe Fox invited him to a meeting in Little Rock. He and College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources Dean Dr. Michael Blazier traveled to Little Rock. Pomes said he was impressed. “They’re all just a really cool group of guys you wouldn’t think about that. You think about state officials, most people frown upon because you always hear about working for the government, but it’s a really cool group of guys.”
Internships with the Arkansas Forestry Division that are flexible in locations and schedules are also part of the Foresters for the Future scholarship. Two days before this interview, Pomes started an Arkansas Forestry Division internship with Dale Pace as his supervisor. “Yesterday they were talking about doing a burn and he was showing me how it sets up, how you can tell if it will burn or if it needs to be sprayed again before you can burn.”
Pomes just got his fire shelter certification so he can participate in controlled burns. Pomes is about to start training for the “Walk Test” which requires forest personnel to be able to walk a mile in 16 minutes. He said forest employees are tested once a year.
Pomes will work the Forestry Division internship for the rest of the semester, then work with a private consultant company again this summer in Texarkana. In the fall, Kyle will jump right back into the Forestry Division internship based near the UAM campus.
Scholarship Changes Shylee’s Focus from Music to Trees
Kyle follows in the footsteps of the inaugural Foresters for the Future Recipient of Shylee Head, who continues to succeed at UAM. Being awarded the 2021 Arkansas Future Forester Scholarship opened a floodgate of opportunities for Shylee. “I’ve been able to get out of my shell a little bit more. Whenever I talk to people they’re like, oh, you’re the forestry scholarship winner. So that’s rewarding in itself. Just having that title of being the Arkansas Future Forester Scholarship brings a lot. People already think highly by having the scholarship before I even get the chance to introduce myself, said Head.
The second-year student from Mena, Arkansas said she had about 115 students in her high school graduating glass and a smaller school like UAM was a perfect transition. She originally came to Monticello seeking to major in Music. After visiting the campus and talking about her career with her father, she made the change to Natural Resources Management with the Forestry option.
“There’s a lot of opportunities through forestry at UAM mostly through the Forestry Club.” Head said, “we get to do all the events with timber sports conclave, going and competing against all the schools across the Southeast and various lumberjack sports events and technical events.” This year the team traveled to Ruston, Louisiana, where they took seventh overall, fourth in the technical events. The event seems bring a bond among the 13 team members. Head was recently elected president of the Arkansas Forestry Club for the 2023-24 school year. Head said, “ I also got the chance to go to Baltimore, MD, for the Society of American Foresters National Convention.” While in Baltimore Head met some of the top movers and shakers in the organization. The CEO of Society of American Foresters Terry Baker came to the UAM campus and just wanted to check it out. Before the Baltimore convention Baker reached out to Head about becoming a student executive representative for District 9, of the Midwest area. “And so, not only did I get to go to the SAF Convention to do quiz bowl and represent UAM there but also I get to represent UAM on a national level,” said Head.
Head landed a high-level internship with Weyerhaeuser in 2022, which she said the scholarship probably helped her in the selection process. Shylee shadowed a Silviculture Forester for Weyerhaeuser last year and will be doing an internship with a harvest manager with Weyerhaeuser this year.
Head said, “It was really interesting to go in and see how best management practices come into play in the field.” She added, “It’s really nice to go see all the things that I’ve learned in the classroom being applied to the practical world in the field.”
Head says that while the forestry business is large worldwide, she says it seems everyone knows everyone. While at the conclave, she met forestry students from Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, some of whom she encountered again at Weyerhaeuser. Head says it’s like an interconnected, tightly knit community in forestry. Shylee is excited about the career paths in front of her and said the prospectus for forestry majors looks good.
Foresters for the Future Scholarship Application Period Open Through June 15, 2023
The application process is currently open for the 2023 Arkansas Foresters for the Future scholarship award. Applications will be accepted through June 15. Students interested in the scholarship can find more information on the UAM website at uamont.edu/academics/CFANR/forestersforthefuture.html.
About the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center
The College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a University of Arkansas System Center of Excellence, brings together interdisciplinary expertise through a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The College and Center are headquartered at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus, but their programs range statewide with the mission of developing and delivering teaching, research, and extension programs that enhance and ensure the sustainability and productivity of forest-based natural resources and agricultural systems. Academic programs are delivered by the College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources through the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, research is administered by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and extension and outreach activities are coordinated by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
The University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offer all of their programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and are Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employers.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of twenty entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all seventy-five counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.