League podcast explores jobs in the redwood forest

I'll Go If You'll Go kicks off Season 4 with a two-time Redwoods Rising apprentice

A young forester in a hard hat surveys a dense redwood forest
Francisco Saavedra surveys the forest as an apprentice with Redwoods Rising, a League partnership project to restore formerly logged forests in Redwood National and State Parks. Photo courtesy Francisco Saavedra.

Ever spent your day staring at a computer screen and wondered, “What it would be like to work outside in a redwood forest instead?”

Season 4 of the League’s acclaimed podcast I’ll Go If You Go explores this question, delving into a variety of jobs in California’s most iconic landscape, from wildland firefighter to landscape architect to park interpreter. Emily Harwitz returns as the podcast’s host, with 12 fresh episodes dropping bi-weekly through September 11. Expect thought-provoking conversations with emerging environmental leaders from diverse backgrounds. All of whom work—and play—in the great outdoors.

Episode 2 features Francisco Saavedra, a proud member of the Pit River Tribe Madesi Band, with Yurok and El Salvadoran ancestry. Saavedra is currently studying tribal forestry at College of the Redwoods and was a 2023 Redwoods Rising Forestry Apprentice who is returning for the 2024 season. Asked how he’d first heard about the Redwoods Rising project, Saavedra responds:

“[My professor] invited us to go to this thing called the Society of American Foresters. And oh boy, the title sounded intimidating to me…I had to call my mom because I said, ‘hey, I don’t know what to expect. I’m scared. I feel like I don’t fit in.’ But as soon as I heard the presentation from Redwoods Rising…I realized that this project right here hits every single restoration goal that I want to do in my life, in an area that I want to live in and that I want to be in. I became obsessive and now I’m a forestry animal. I love it. I eat, breathe, live forestry, natural resources. I want to dedicate my life to the restoration of California’s ecosystems.”

Francisco Antonio Saavedra Jr.
Francisco Saavedra is a member of the Pit River Tribe Madesi Band, with Yurok and El Salvadoran ancestry. Photo courtesy Francisco Saavedra.

Saavedra says that his work as a Redwoods Rising apprentice felt like being a “soldier for good,” and that the experience solidified his commitment to becoming “one of the best professional Tribal foresters in the state of California and maybe even the nation.” Reflecting on his Indigenous heritage and the relationship between healthy ecosystems and healthy people, Saavedra says:

“…I can’t historically undo the damage that’s been done. I can’t historically undo the uncomfortable history. But the work we do here really does right a lot of historical wrongs, no matter what background you come from. And I think that that is extremely healing for our people.”

Want to hear more about Saavedra’s forestry journey? Listen to the full episode, “Guardian of the Redwoods” on I’ll Go If You Go.

About the author

Since 1918, Save the Redwoods League has protected and restored redwood forests and connected people with their peace and beauty so these wonders of the natural world flourish.

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