Society of American Foresters

Northwest Regions

Calling All Foresters - Philmont Scout Ranch Needs You!


By Andy Mason and Steve Johnson


As a teenager, do you remember like I do that one person or experience that made you want to become a forester? The Visiting Forester Program at the Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, New Mexico, is your opportunity to make that same impact on a young person in the 21st century. As foresters we often talk about how important it is increase literacy in natural resources and to recruit and mentor new foresters. The Visiting Forester program at Philmont is truly a golden opportunity for foresters to make a difference!


Philmont is a premier high adventure camp that provides a wide range of backcountry experiences to over 20,000 visitors annually, including many Boy Scouts as well as young men and women in the BSA’s Venturing program and their adult leaders. During the summer of 2015 an estimated 8,000 Scouts and their leaders stopped at the Philmont Demonstration Forest where Visiting Foresters such as Steve Johnson and Andy Mason provided forestry programs to crews typically made up of 6-12 Scouts and their adult leaders. During our weeks at Philmont in 2014 and 2015, Steve and I interacted with crews from every region in the country, including Alaska and Puerto Rico. Both summers we talked with Philmont staff about forestry, many of whom are in college and actively exploring career opportunities. In 2015 we organized and led a special “Carbon in the Forest” workshop for 12 students, which was part of Philmont’s youth STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program. We guided the STEM students as they used Biltmore sticks, clinometers and increment borers to measure tree heights, diameters and age. Then using this data they calculated the amount of carbon sequestered by one ponderosa pine. The STEM workshop showed us that some young people will have an interest in forestry and natural resources when they can see that it involves science, math and technology.  


Andy Mason uses a 400 year old tree cookie to explain fire ecology and how the forests of Philmont have changed since the early 1900s.

Two-person Visiting Forester teams rotate every week at Philmont’s Demonstration Forest beginning in early June through mid-August. You spend your days meeting and talking with crews as they hike north or south by the Demonstration Forest pavilion, which overlooks the scenic Cathedral Rock and Cimarroncito Reservoir. At the pavilion is a wealth of information about the forests, plants, and animals at Philmont and forestry tools–everything you need to talk with young people about forest ecology, fire, insects and diseases, silviculture, etc., including a 400+ year old cross section of a ponderosa pine with the years marked when fires occurred. 

An Alaskan crew poses at our picture taking spot next to the Demonstration Forest pavilion with Cimarroncito Reservoir in the background.

Philmont provides all your lodging and food at the hunting lodge camp, a short walk from the Demonstration Forest.  When you first arrive at Philmont base camp around noon on Saturday, Jim Sawyer and other Philmont staff provide a first-class orientation to all Visiting Foresters. The co-leaders of the Visiting Forester program are Mary Stuever, Chama District Forester for New Mexico State Forestry, and Mark Anderson, Philmont Director of Program.  

Steve Johnson and Andy Mason at the pavilion.

Are you interested in being a visiting forester at Philmont? Several weeks in 2016 still have openings. For more information and an application please contact Mary or Mark:

Mary Stuever,, by phone at 575-588-7831 (office) or 575-756-4406 (cell); or

Mark Anderson,, by phone at 575-376-2281