February 8, 2017
By Tom Davidson
Melody Starya Mobley is a pioneer. She was the first African-American woman to graduate with a degree in forest management from the University of Washington. She was also the first black female forester to join the US Forest Service. Now retired, Melody served forestry and the forestry community in many places for 28 years, and she currently serves as a role model for foresters and powerful women everywhere. Among the sometimes shocking topics in this episode, Melody says that you will need different types of mentors throughout your forestry career and that your mentors don’t have to look like you!
[3:30] How did Melody become interested in forestry?
[4:35] The year Bruce Lee died, Melody took an interest in martial arts.
[6:00] Melody always thought she’d be a zoologist.
[8:00] What advice does Melody have for women who didn’t know a career in forestry was possible?
[9:00] People are simply not aware of the diverse professions they can pursue within forestry and the Forest Service.
[13:10] Women typically have excellent communication skills. What other skills can men learn from women?
[18:25] Your mentors don’t always have to look just like you.
[24:30] Life-long learners find mentors.
[24:40] Melody serves as a door opener for all people, not just people of color or women.
[29:40] What kinds of challenges has Melody experienced throughout her career?
[36:25] What kinds of lessons has she learned from having to prove her worth because she was both a woman and a person of color?
[42:30] As more people of diverse backgrounds enter the workforce, we need to be mindful of the cultural differences. This doesn’t mean you can’t ‘be yourself,’ though.
[49:25] What is Melody most proud of in her career?
[54:10] Melody says that we can all be leaders in some aspect of our lives if we truly want to be. All we have to do is do the work!
[56:15] Tom’s Leadership Tip of the Week!
Mentioned in This Episode:
First African-American Female Forester Melody Starya Mobley with her puppy, Little Raina Elise.