Monday, April 14, 2008

Growing Up Ralph - Picking A Career

This wooded area is located less than a block from the house where I lived during my younger years. It’s a greenbelt in a Denver suburb. Beyond the trees is a creek. That greenbelt holds many memories. Most of them are good, some are not. That greenbelt might hold the key to how I picked forestry as a career.

One of the things I hear repeatedly is, “I wanted to go into forestry! What made you pick that as a career?” For years, I answered that question by saying I like to be outside. That’s the short answer but it appeased most people.

Recently we received the following letter. The minute the receptionist showed it to me I knew I wanted to answer it. I took out the names and location but the rest is word for word.

Dear Forest Service,

Last Friday, our six-year old son, was disciplined at his elementary school for writing on a tree in the schoolyard with a marker. As part of the consequence for this behavior, he decided with us that it would be a good for him to donate his allowance for this week to you. We all thought it would be a good idea to give a donation to people who help trees since he had hurt one.

Please accept his donation ($2) to aid in your work with the beautiful trees of Colorado.

Thank You
Below it was signed by the little guy along with a handwritten ‘Thank You’. I wrote back:

Thanks you for your donation to help keep Colorado’s trees beautiful. We will put it to good use.

As I read your letter, I was reminded of another elementary student. Years ago, he was playing with fireworks down by a creek where he lived. He shouldn’t have been playing with fireworks without his parents but he was. He caught a dead cottonwood tree on fire and the fire department had to come and put it out.

As part of his consequences, he had to spend a Saturday cleaning things at the fire department. He also had to donate his allowance, but he only got fifty cents.

I know this is a true story because I was the elementary student. You and I had to learn the value of trees the hard way, but we learned.

Enclosed is a small token of our thanks.

And that might be the real reason I went into forestry.


Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Ralph, you could have burned down the whole forest!!!! You were very lucky. I'm glad that you went into forestry. I love the area near Pagosa, Colorado, there are many beautiful trees there.

10:48 PM  
Blogger bobbie said...

I'm glad you went into forestry too, Ralph. I played in the woods all the time as a child, but it never occurred to me. I wish it had.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Granny Annie said...

Excellent examples of what happens when we apply consequences to children's improper actions. Not enough of that seems to be happening these days.

This post brings to mind a question I saw the other day. "Why are Up With The Trees signs made of wood?"

6:18 AM  
Anonymous Sorso said...

For those of us who have not head all the great stories of Ralph , I am sure thankful that we get to read about them .


7:43 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I agree with granny. Too many kids think their "crap" don't stink and parents don't "PARENT" enough. Good for you. I bet he was excited to get your letter back, that it didn't just fall through the cracks.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

That's so neat. I bet that kid LOVED receiving your return letter, and you never know... you may have inspired him to go into the field of forestry.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Cliff said...

Great post my friend. You are the best. What a great return letter.

11:52 AM  
Blogger Mountain Mama said...

Your story made me smile. Yes teaching our children to take responsibility for their actions is something that many parents seem to ignore these days. It's refreshing to hear otherwise.
I grew up in the woods and we had a few grass fires that caused some tree damage but fortunately we were able to put the fires out before they took the whole forest.
I would think that your boyhood experience certainly had a lot to do with your chosen profession.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

What a nice letter Ralph! I'm glad those parents made him do the responsible thing. I'm sure your letter will always be a highlight of his younger years and maybe one day he'll be telling this story to others!

A cottonwood tree? Not familiar with those!

8:52 AM  
Blogger Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Ralph! I am sure that you made the little boy's day and I am glad that his parents had him write the letter and send a donation.
I am glad that you went into forestry. I enjoy reading those posts. Oh, I enjoy reading all of your post, but I especially enjoy those. Have a good weekend. Lisa

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great life lessons here, and a child who will long remember them, along with respect for nature... Deb

6:41 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Good Stuff, Ralph.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Aravis said...

It must be said: you're an amazing person and just a great guy. I'd be surprised if you didn't just make a lasting impression on a little boy, just as you have on us.

8:09 PM  

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