Southern Perspective

The official blog of the Southern Group of State Foresters

Brett Dawson

Forestry Careers: Nursery Manager, It’s a Growing Career

July 18th, 2019
Public Information Manager
Arkansas Department of Agriculture

James Shelton is a nursery manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
James Shelton is a nursery manager for the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
James Shelton has been working for Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Commission since 1992, starting as a part-time fieldhand and then becoming a full-time nursery technician in 1997.

For the past 27 years, Shelton has moved up through the ranks to Nursery Manager of Baucum Nursery in North Little Rock, Ark., where he has served for three years and loves being able to work outside and being surrounded by nature.

“Working at the nursery is a very fulfilling job, where you can personally watch a seed become a full grown tree,” said Shelton. “I have been able to enjoy nature every day with this work.”

There are several different paths to becoming a nursery technician and ultimately a nursery manager but Shelton advises that the most important things are to soak in as much knowledge about trees as possible, put in a lot of hard work, and be prepared to do a little bit of everything.

His daily tasks, in addition to the day-to-day administration that is required to run the nursery, include watering the trees, planting seeds, clearing brush, lifting the seedlings, and anything else that needs to be done that day.

Shelton checks the progress of seedlings at Baucum Nursery.
Shelton checks the progress of seedlings at Baucum Nursery.

 

 

 

“If you haven’t been to a forestry nursery, I encourage you to visit one, learn what the staff does, and see the benefits that the trees provide,” said Shelton. “It’s pretty cool.”

So, what do forest nursery technicians do?  Here are some basics, which may vary from state to state:

  • Plant trees
  • Care for seeds and seedlings
  • Determine varieties and quantities of trees to be planted
  • Be a heavy equipment operator
  • Lift (harvest) and package seedlings for distribution

     

    View a video about James Shelton and forest nursery careers:

    Shelton tractor

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