James Shelton has been working for Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Commission since 1992, starting as a part-time fieldhand and then becoming a full-time nursery technician in 1997.
For the past 27 years, Shelton has moved up through the ranks to Nursery Manager of Baucum Nursery in North Little Rock, Ark., where he has served for three years and loves being able to work outside and being surrounded by nature.
“Working at the nursery is a very fulfilling job, where you can personally watch a seed become a full grown tree,” said Shelton. “I have been able to enjoy nature every day with this work.”
There are several different paths to becoming a nursery technician and ultimately a nursery manager but Shelton advises that the most important things are to soak in as much knowledge about trees as possible, put in a lot of hard work, and be prepared to do a little bit of everything.
His daily tasks, in addition to the day-to-day administration that is required to run the nursery, include watering the trees, planting seeds, clearing brush, lifting the seedlings, and anything else that needs to be done that day.
“If you haven’t been to a forestry nursery, I encourage you to visit one, learn what the staff does, and see the benefits that the trees provide,” said Shelton. “It’s pretty cool.”
So, what do forest nursery technicians do? Here are some basics, which may vary from state to state:
View a video about James Shelton and forest nursery careers: