Today we are launching Alumni Wednesdays – a chance to highlight some of our University of Maine at Machias graduates who are working around the world. Our first alumni to be featured is Derek Ibarguen, class of 1997. Derek is a native of Farmington, Maine, and is now a District Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service at Pisgah Forest, North Carolina.
There are three Ranger Districts on the 500,000 acre Pisgah National Forest. I am the District Ranger for the 160,000 acre Pisgah Ranger District and responsible for the quality, quantity, and coordination of all work performed on the District. It is the responsibility of the District Ranger to establish and maintain cooperation relations with local, county, and State representatives, special interest groups, civic groups, private industry, Tribal government, permittees, and members of the general public. The District Ranger is responsible for promoting ecosystem management and ensuring long-term productivity and ecologically sustainable goals are implemented, maintained, and achieved. The District Ranger coordinates District resource management with public officials, industry representatives, and citizen groups while ensuring that such plans are consistent with the District’s multiple use resource objectives.
The District is especially noted for easy access to many beautiful waterfalls, wonderful hiking and camping opportunities. For recreation enthusiasts the district offers the following: 4 developed campgrounds, two which are open year-round; 5 group camping areas; 6 picnic areas; 1 swimming area; and over 380 miles of maintained recreation trails. The district also includes the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway (a scenic 79-mile highway loop through the district), Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and Shining Rock and Middle Prong Wilderness areas.
The District may be best known for the Cradle of Forestry in America – a 6,500-acre Historic Site within the Pisgah National Forest nestled below the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC Hwy. 276. More than 100 years ago students attended America’s first forestry school – Biltmore Forest School, at that time owned by famed millionaire, George Vanderbilt. Today the campus is part of the Cradle of Forestry.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
Performing and participating above and beyond what is required is paramount in achieving your dreams because it separates you from the pack.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
Volunteer, seek internships and seasonal job opportunities to build your resume. Stay focused on your dream.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
Excellent opportunities to be a student leader and grow as a leader through class projects and club organizations. Small class size with easy and frequent interaction with professors that created the ability to work on improving strengths and weaknesses.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
Created the best possible atmosphere for building confidence as I was working to establish and achieve goals.