One of the most important aspects of sustainable forestry is connecting with the next generation of passionate professionals. We reach out to them in a number of ways, including camp programs for school kids and special training for educators. The Georgia Forestry Commission also works with several colleges and universities to target young adults who have a special interest in forestry and want to intern with our agency.

Twenty-year old Brady Kalessa joined those ranks as a Forest Management intern in May of 2021. The rising University of Georgia senior will soon earn his undergraduate degree in Wildlife Science, yet as a result of his experiences with GFC, is seriously considering a Master’s Degree in Forest Resources.

Brady has “gotten his hands dirty” by performing a huge variety of tasks for which GFC foresters are responsible. He’s cruised and marked timber and attended a timber sale bid near Bainbridge. He’s performed water quality Best Management Practice examinations, learned the capabilities of hand-held computers with the Global Positioning System and gotten up close and personal with forest health issues, including emerald ash borer and cogongrass.

Brady had the opportunity to work with GFC Forester Tony Page on the Dawson & Paulding Forest Project. Earlier this summer he marked stands at Dawson for a first thinning and was recently able to evaluate those same stands as they were being thinned. He said he enjoyed operating the equipment for a 60-foot culvert install and road maintenance at Dawson, as well as assisting DNR Wildlife techs in setting up bear survey stations there. Part of his responsibilities for this memorable project was helping hang open cans of fish from trees to attract the animals. On follow-up, they saw they’d had plenty of visitors who had left striking claw marks on the trees and many mangled, empty cans.

Brady knows his way around heavy equipment and the outdoors. Before his internship, he was employed by a land survey firm and still helps the firm’s owner by working on his farm. He enjoys hunting and fishing and is an accomplished wood worker. From custom furniture and cutting boards to jewelry, bowls, decorative items, revolver grips, and fencing, it’s clear this young man has a great variety of practical and creative skills. (Follow him on Instagram at “builtbybrady12.”)

As Brady’s internship come to an end in August, his GFC coworkers say they’re proud of the work he’s done.

GFC’s Tony Page said, “Brady has proved to be a very helpful and suitable intern for our project. I personally have been very impressed with his attitude and willingness to give full effort on whatever we are working on. I think UGA has a good one in this young man and I suspect he’ll go far in life.”