Some people dream about visiting the sandy beaches of Hawaii. But New Jersey native Ruth D’Amico always dreamed of exploring the mountains and oceans of Alaska.
The U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist was always curious about nature and hoped to one day feed this love for wonder in Alaska. Hailing from a small town, D’Amico lived nowhere near a national forest and yearned to be around Alaska’s mountains that she read about as a child. Little did she know that she would one day call those Alaskan mountains home.
As a student at Rutgers University, D’Amico studied fisheries management. One course took her to study natural resources in Alaska. There, she volunteered with the Seward Ranger District on the Chugach National Forest on the Kenai Peninsula; she later returned to the district as a Forest Service fisheries professional.
During her time in Seward, D’Amico has been a positive force within the community as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She has also established herself as a trusted ambassador of the agency, particularly to Seward Elementary School students, to whom she introduced the management of Pacific Salmon. After showing a fifth-grade class a Forest Service restoration site, the students brought to D’Amico’s attention that the number of salmon in a stream in the City of Seward had decreased. With D’Amico’s help and guidance, the children involved the city to address this issue and today, the elementary school students continue to monitor the stream.
“Just knowing that when you get done at the end of the day that you might make a difference” is why she enjoys the community, D’Amico said. “That has been a really big driving force for what I’ve done because I really do believe in the mission of the Forest Service.”
And she sees working with children as an important part of carrying out that mission.
“I’m trying to make sure these kids realize there are opportunities out there at an early age,” she said. “When I was growing up, I lived nowhere near a national forest and I think I would have been inspired to be a part of this field earlier had I known about the opportunities available such as Youth Conservation Corps. I would have been all over that.”
See what else D’Amicio has to say in the Forest Service special feature Faces of the Forest, a bi-weekly feature of the Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within the agency.