SEQUIM — Lauren Turner of Sequim hopes to give women an exclusive look at the career opportunities available to women in the U.S. Forest Service with her book “Outdoor Women Inside the Forest Service.”
After a 30-year career in the U.S. Forest Service, Turner wrote a book with the hope that it would inspire other women to find a fulfilling career in the agency.
Her book was released Nov. 15 and offers a brief history and review of women employed in the agency 1971-2018.
It also profiles 41 other women she interviewed and their roles in the agency.
“The stories are a celebration of women,” said Turner, who moved to Sequim with her husband after her retirement from the Forest Service in 2010.
“I worked my entire career with some extraordinary women and wanted to know what made them tick and make them want to do this kind of work.”
While she puts the focus on many other women’s careers, her story is not one to be overlooked among them.
Turner held several clerical jobs when she started working for the agency, as those were the most common jobs offered to women in the 1970s. Her first job was an entry-level clerical position in West Yellowstone in Montana.
Turner’s book says the Forest Service was established in 1905 and for the next 60 to 70 years was dominantly staffed by men in the production of harvest and timber.
“Women were rarely hired and [the agency] decided they made good clerks and hired them as clerks,” she said.
Turner, born in Merced, Calif., grew up in the outdoors and felt she had more to offer than just serving clerical roles.
“I was outdoorsy to begin with,” she said. “I grew up in a time when women had certain roles, but I had a drive to do other things. My family was traditional and I took clerical positions, but felt like I wanted to do something else.”
Turner said it was the civil rights and environmental movements in the 1960s and ’70s that changed the status quo for women working in the agency.
“It wasn’t until the 1960s-’70s when the laws started changing,” she said.
Turner was one of many women who saw this change as an opportunity, she said, and through the agency she completed a degree in biological science, which qualified her to hold more professional jobs in the field.
She then became a wildlife biologist and was promoted several times throughout her career, including to ecosystem manager, and she retired as a district ranger, where she oversaw many employees under her jurisdiction.
“It was challenging,” she said.
“[Women] were right there with [men] backing them up and working and so it evolved through the years.”
While she faced challenges, she said her career also was rewarding and allowed her to travel throughout the nation for work, from Montana to California to West Virginia, and back to Yellowstone, where she retired.
During her interviews with other women, she found similarities among them, such as a love of the outdoors and the belief that their stories can pave the way for other women in the future.
“My primary purpose is to document the contribution of women in a personal and informative way,” she said. “To show other women who might want to be in the U.S. Forest Service what that might be like.”
One of the women’s biographies she features in her book include Kristine Fairbanks, a local U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer from Forks, who was killed in the line of duty near Sequim in 2008.
Turner said Fairbanks was the first law enforcement officer of any gender for the Olympic National Forest, and she started its first K-9 officer program during her tenure.
She also includes a biography of Abigail Kimbell, the first female chief of the U.S Forest Service, who also wrote the forward in Turner’s book.
“The bulk of the book is 42 biographies of women who occupied various outdoor positions at various levels,” Turner said.
“My intent was to make sure in those stories they told details of what their job entailed so other women could see what their jobs were like.”
“Outdoor Women inside the Forest Service” can be ordered through Amazon or through the publisher, McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company.
The book is listed at $29.95 but can be purchased with a special offer through the publishing company at $20.95 per copy through January.
To contact McDonald & Woodward Publishing Co., call 760-641-2691 or 800-233-8787 or email [email protected] for questions, additional information or to place an order.
Orders also can be placed by mail and sent to The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, 695 Tall Oaks Drive, Newark, OH, 43055.
Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at [email protected].