David Ferrell seems to rebound from setbacks with a vengeance.
During his first semester of college, his mother fell ill and he had to drop out to help take care of her and his four younger siblings. Back home, Ferrell met Charles Minor, a local Virginia man who would become a lifelong influence and who convinced Ferrell to sign up for the Job Corps, his foray into the U.S. Forest Service.
Ferrell not only followed Minor’s advice but that guidance led Ferrell to earn a scholarship to East Tennessee State University. In college, Ferrell became a standout player who would attract the attention of an NFL team. But an injury during training camp sent him back home, where he eventually returned to the Job Corps.
He worked his way through the Job Corps, training young people, managing centers and settling into his unexpected career. As he forged his path helping young people, Ferrell didn’t realize he would embark on another path after a chance meeting with a deputy chief who saw potential in the young man. Ferrell’s next career move put him in the agency’s Law Enforcement and Investigations division, which he now heads.
“I have to attribute (my success) to being blessed and driven,” he said. “My drive was to put myself in a place to help my family, in particularly my mother. I watched my mother become disabled, unable to work after working so hard for us. I wanted to be in a place where I would be able to help her.
“We all control our lives to some degree and are responsible for the decisions that we make. The good ones and the bad ones.”
Read more about Ferrell and other Forest Service employees in the feature “Faces of the Forest,” a bi-weekly feature of the Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within the agency.