Michael Yadrick's job supports forest restoration in more than 80 of Seattle's forested parks as part of the Green Seattle Partnership.
What do you do? I am a plant ecologist for Seattle Parks Urban Forestry. My job supports forest restoration in the city’s forested parkland as part of the Green Seattle Partnership. The program is active in over 80 parks citywide, and I manage a couple dozen projects each year that are in different phases of restoration. Our goals are to restore natural areas for diversity and forest health, while helping the community get involved in the effort.
How did you get started in that field? I became really interested in Pacific Northwest forests in college, where we studied the ecology of old growth forests and life in the forest canopy. Wanting to do more than just study plants, after graduation, I joined an Americorps crew doing streamside restoration. Then, I spent three years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer and did some graduate study in Costa Rica and Guatemala on livelihood issues in protected areas.
What’s a typical day like? I am always making plans for future revegetation projects or checking in on parks. I look at a good amount of data related to the condition of the forests, as well as manage the budget. I support volunteers who are leading their own restorations while also directing the work of crews on steep slopes and wetlands with the intent of replanting in areas where we are removing non-native invasive plants.
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What’s the best part of the job? I get to explore the entire city’s forest, trail and plant life. It is incredible when other people realize that they can be proactive and have unique access to the parks through the restoration effort. Ultimately, the best part is knowing that my son and other kids will return to parks in future years and see the benefit of this work well after we are dead and gone.
What surprises people about your work? I do spend quite a bit of time in front of the computer, but I would say about 90 percent of the time, when my wife calls my cell phone I am walking in the woods. On a more serious note, I am only one person. There is power in partnership. Thousands of people from City departments, nonprofit partners and volunteers contribute to making the forests healthy and our communities more livable.
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