Amanda Patrick is the Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Shawnee National Forest (NF). She is a 2002 graduate of WKU’s recreation program.
Amanda oversees communication efforts for the 287,000 acre forest, which has approximately 70 employees. She is responsible for communicating Shawnee National Forest information with both the public (public relations, interviews, briefing papers, talking points, etc) along with an internal audience of USFS team members and personnel. She also serves as a member of the Forest’s leadership team, helping to guide decisions regarding the Forest. Most recently, Amanda developed a “virtual tour” of the recreation areas of the Shawnee NF. Day to day duties vary greatly as Amanda may one minute be involved in a discussion regarding natural resource management issues to changing gears and assisting with an outreach event the next. With a love of Visitor Services style support, Amanda also assists with the volunteer programs and conservation education events for the Forest.
Amanda said the best thing about her job is, “Being a steward of the land for the American people, always seeking to give 110%. I’m honored when I can go out on the weekends and see people connecting with the areas around the Forest. More than ever, people need such places to be able to recreate and connect with nature, and it feels great at the end of the day to help make that possible.”
How did the recreation program prepare you for your career? “I was a Biology, Recreation double major when I first enrolled. The recreation program pushed and challenged me to do my best, but we also had a lot of fun! My writing skills improved when I took REC 430 as a freshman. I turned an outline to Dr. Spencer…he told me I needed to beef it up. I was challenged, and I found a whole new career path!”
What is your favorite thing about WKU? “It was a big campus but it also felt very small. I could walk across campus and see several people that I had a class with last year or run into someone who, unbeknownst to be, knew my roommate or had another connection that I didn’t realize. There is a sense of community at WKU that makes you feel like you are home. My years at WKU were the happiest years of my life as I grew immensely as a person!”
What is your favorite thing about the recreation program? “I remember going canoeing in REC 235 and learning paddle strokes with Dr. Spencer. It was a nice day, late spring, and Dr. Spencer held up his paddle and said, ‘I should be paid to do this…’ Talk about feeling a lot of joy in being able to say that one day myself and knowing one can have a career that he or she loves! The recreation program is near and dear to my heart. We get to help people recoup, rewind, and relax. The professors influenced me. Dr. Kummer, Dr. Little, Dr. Spencer and others saw what I could be. Their passion for the field (recreation) helped me grow and provided me with professional opportunities, including helping me to become a part of state and national boards and supporting me as I began my career as a SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) Park Ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the age of 19.”