Season 4 | Our State Foresters | Episode 2

#59 | You can’t make decisions in a vacuum

February 14, 2018 | Rick Oates

In this episode, you’ll meet Rick Oates, who was appointed the State Forester of Alabama in 2017. In his role, Rick leads the Alabama Forestry Commission, which protects and sustains Alabama’s 23 million acres of forest land and helps educate the public about the importance of forestry to the environment and the economy of the state. Rick has over 20 years of forestry experience, and on today’s show, he shares some of the challenges of being a State Forester in today’s world, where resources are limited and foresters are needed more than ever to find efficient solutions. On this show, Rick also answers the question, “What keeps a State Forester up at night?”

Key Takeaways:

[:55] A message from Leadership Nature.

[1:40] A quick intro about Rick’s background.

[3:00] How did Rick become interested in forestry?

[6:35] What kind of work did Rick do while he was getting his education?

[11:10] Tom tried growing a beard to help himself look older when he was leading his older peers.

[13:05] What has been the most rewarding work Rick has done so far?

[16:45] How is leadership different at the ‘top’ compared to more frontline management?

[19:45] Rick discusses why it’s so critical to have a mentor or somebody to confide in.

[25:35] You will make mistakes. Own up to it and get your team involved to help find new solutions.

[32:00] What has Rick learned so far about the next generation of professionals he’s working with?

[34:00] How does Rick retain and keep young talent in today’s world?

[36:25] What recommendations does Rick have for leadership resources and training?

[38:50] Where does Rick think the future of forestry is headed?

[41:30] Natural resources are going to become more and more limited and we need to find ways to use them most efficiently.

[43:25] Rick has a goal to read a biography about each and everyone of our Presidents and their leadership styles.

Mentioned in This Episode:


Leadership Nature is a proud supporter of #forestproud, a diverse community of forest stewards.