In celebration of 20 years of Forestry at WIT, we talk to Peter Whooley, forester, The Forestry Company
Forester Peter Whooley travelled abroad after he left school, this helped him realise what he wanted to do with his life and it enabled him to make a decision to study Forestry and Land Management at WIT.
Peter says “knowledge in agriculture is helpful while experience in working on the ground in forestry is essential as you need to understand the kind of work that is being done before telling someone how to do it. While working on the ground you will learn things that a book simply cannot teach you”.
What are the main tasks and responsibilities?
The primary duties of my job are to plant and manage forestry for The Forestry Company. I liaise with existing clients and ensure that all their needs are met and try to solve any problems which they may have with their forestry. Every day I speak with the contractors which are carrying out work on sites which we manage and ensure that they have materials etc and know where to go next. I carry out any work which may need to be done on the ground such as inventory or ensuring that harvesting operations etc are running smoothly.
Describe a typical day
During a typical day, I will start by checking and replying to emails or letters. I could then be meeting clients or prospective clients who are interested in planting forestry, walk land which has been planted to see if it needs maintenance, look at land, meet contractors to organise getting work done, timber measurement, meet harvesting machine contractors, meet with forest service inspectors regardingn problems etc, meet county council engineers regarding timber haulage routes or forest road building.
There is a large variety of things I may do on any day as there are no two days the same in forestry. I will always spend a minimum of one day in the office per week carrying out paperwork from afforestation approvals to felling licences. One very important task at the end of each week I find is to plan the coming week.
What are the main challenges?
The main challenges in the job are having the ability to deal with many different people and being able to liaise with them and come up with solutions for any given problem.
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I am self-motivated and have an ability to adapt to new things relatively easily. I have a broad knowledge of agriculture as well as forestry which I find is a good advantage to my job.
How did you go about getting your current job?
I applied for my current position when it was advertised within Waterford Institute of Technology.
What were the main 'career decision' milestones in your life so far?
Travelling abroad after school helped me realise what I wanted to do with my life and enabled me to make a decision to study forestry and pursue a career.
Who are the people who most influenced your career direction?
Co-workers in previous jobs, friends and family would have influenced me in my career direction.
Does your job allow you to have a lifestyle you are happy with?
It does as I spend a lot of time outside and travelling the country with my job.
Education and training
What subjects did you take in school and how have these influenced your career path?
Geography would have been a good subject to take for the Leaving Certificate.
What is your education to date?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and a Bachelor of Science Honours in Land Management in Forestry, both completed in WIT.
What aspects of your education have proven most important for your job?
The Bachelor of Science in Forestry was vital for me to get my job as I am a forester registered with the Department of Agriculture.
Have you undertaken, or do you plan to undertake any further training as part of your job?
I am constantly upskilling by attending events and courses run by the Forest Service and the Society of Irish Foresters.
What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?
So far in my career, the most rewarding events have been seeing my first afforestation site being planted in 2016 and carrying out forest inventory on 4,000 hectares of mature forestry with my colleagues.
What personal qualities do you have that helps you in your career?
I am self-motivated and have an ability to work well with a team.
Advice for others
What are the three most important personal characteristics required for the job?
The ability to work with others, attention to detail and manners.
What advice would you give to someone considering this job?
I would tell anyone considering a job as a forester to try your best as forestry will always be there.
What kinds of work experience would provide a good background for this position?
Knowledge in agriculture is helpful while experience in working on the ground in forestry is essential as you need to understand the kind of work that is being done before telling someone how to do it. While working on the ground you will learn things that a book simply cannot teach you.
These WIT Forestry graduate testimonials were compiled by the Forestry Careers Promotion Group to mark the 20-year anniversary of Forestry courses at WIT in 2018.