July 2020 Young Alum of the Month

Sarah Kendell Headshot

Name: Sarah Kendell

Hometown: Bellevue, Iowa

Degree: (’18 forestry)

Title and Company: Forester, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Putting out fires is literally part of Sarah Kendell’s job. As a Wisconsin Department of Natural resources forester, stationed in Douglas County, the northern tip of the state, Kendell’s position includes working in the office, fighting wildfires and assisting landowners.

Every season is different for Kendell. Winter includes office work like updating and creating maps. She heads out in snowshoes to paint property boundary lines and writes property management prescriptions. She prescribes management techniques to optimize forest health, like using controlled burns to remove unwanted brush and promote regrowth.

“As part of forest management, I develop a prescription which is a plan encompassing harvest potential, regeneration tactics, wildlife considerations and general future management,” she says.

Spring brings wildfire season in Wisconsin when she may be called upon to respond to a fire or emergency situation. She’s learned the value of being ready and alert. Due to COVID-19 precautions, foresters had to change how they responded to a wild-land fire by maintaining only one person per vehicle. This brought challenges to communication and operations, but didn’t impact their effectiveness in containing fires.

Summer and fall bring a favorite activity of Kendell’s — spending time in the forest. She runs the Douglas County area’s Private Forestry Program, working closely with private landowners by visiting properties and assisting with land grant applications. Kendell specifically works with private landowners located in the southern portion of Douglas County.

“I get to see a lot of things people don’t normally see; cool trees and unique ecosystems,” Kendell says.

Kendell works to create a meaningful outdoor experience for the public.

“I’m motivated to do the right thing on the landscape and follow the best management practices while protecting the waterways and preserving the unique features on the landscapes; it’s fun to be a part of that and make those decisions,” says Kendell.

Her love for the outdoors began at a young age growing up on her family’s farm in Bellevue, Iowa, where they raised beef cattle, strawberries and managed hardwood timber. She knew from a young age she would follow her parents, Ann Kendell (’83 animal ecology) and David Kendell (’80 ag business) and graduate from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State.

“In some point in my life I will be a landowner and be able to manage that timber as a generational thing; I like the idea of that, “says Kendell.

During Kendell’s time at Iowa State, she excelled and enjoyed academics. She says her academic adviser, Douglas Stokke, teaching professor in the Department of Natural Resource and Ecology and Management, was a positive influence throughout her journey in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“I leaned on him as an adviser, colleague and now friend,” says Kendell.

Her favorite class, “Wood Identification and Properties” was taught by Stokke. She loved the class so much she went on to serve as a teaching assistant in the course for two full semesters.

As we quickly approach a new semester, Kendell gives helpful advice to forestry undergrads.

“Get to know your professors and make those lifelong connections with them because you don’t know where you’ll end up or when you’ll need a reference or just some advice.”