Drew Wopat Plans for Success, in Our Maine Timberlands and in the Community

Drew leads a field tour for high school students earlier this spring.

Drew Wopat originally went to college to be a civil engineer. But after visiting a booth sponsored by the University of Maine at the Fryeburg Fair, he switched to forestry.

“I love being outside,” says Drew, a planning lead who works from our Greenville Timberlands office in Maine. “I’m grateful I made the decision to pursue this career and spend my days in the woods.”

Drew also loves giving back to the local community. He coordinates field trips to introduce area high school students to forestry. He led efforts to rebuild a nature trail regularly used by middle school science classes. And he coaches baseball and volunteers with the Greenville community recreation program. All that time adds up — Drew regularly maxes out his $1,500 matching grants through our TREE-mendous Matching Gifts program. And by redirecting his reward dollars back to the community recreation program, the kids got new baseball jerseys and batting equipment, and the community got a monetary boost to help build a new practice field.

“Greenville is a small community without a lot of resources, so being able to give back and get the things these kids need has been really gratifying,” Drew says. “I’ve also enjoyed working to bridge the disconnect between kids and the forest, showing them they can have a good career in this industry. I tell them how I get to snowmobile, snowshoe, hike and bring my dog while getting paid to do it… now that’s pretty cool.”

Image of Drew with the Greenville Rec baseball team he helped coach last year.

The Greenville Rec baseball team Drew coached last year.


Your title is planning lead. Tell us what you do.

I manage a team of three other planning foresters in our Greenville office. Our job is to find the wood our mill customers need and make sure we have the right equipment and logging contractors available to harvest it. We develop a harvest profile plan that tracks what we plan to cut, and our entire team works together to make sure we follow all sustainability rules and regulations.

What led you to choose this job?

I joined Plum Creek in 2011 as a forestry summer intern; I’ve been in this office my entire career but in different roles. I started as a harvest forester, then moved to this position after about six years.

Tell us what your day is like.

In the planning role, our customers are our Weyerhaeuser harvesting team, our marketing team and the logging contractors. We work to make sure sales are productive and ready to go. If we don't do our job right, it can affect contractors’ business. On a typical day, we all come into the office early to see what everyone has on their plate. Our team knows what we need to do and how to work together to make sure we have timber sales ready to log. I help the team if there are questions or issues, but I also have my own blocks to manage, so I go out to scout forest stands and walk blocks.

Image of Drew and his girlfriend.

Drew and his girlfriend.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

Being outside. I've got a dog — actually, all of us planning foresters have dogs — and it’s wonderful being able to bring my dog with me out into the woods. I love having the autonomy to make decisions on how and where I spend my time. Maine’s spring and fall give us good opportunities to be more efficient in the woods because the leaves are off, it’s easier to work around groundwater, and there are fewer bugs — and it’s a good time to avoid the black flies, which we call the official state bird of Maine. But of course we also work outside in summer and winter.

I also love working with the three team members who report to me. I've been managing people for close to nine years. It's really gratifying to watch them grow and succeed.

You must have some challenges. What are they?

Our business here in New England can be complicated. We’ve got a lot of different products and markets for our wood. So just because we have a productive stand, it doesn’t mean we can harvest it because we might not have a market for it. Our conditions can also be tough; some tracts can only be cut in the winter when everything’s frozen, and others are better suited for summer. And at the same time, we work hard to keep our contractors productive and efficient. It can be difficult to put that all together, but that’s what makes the job interesting.

Image of Drew's dog Zephyr.

Drew says one of his favorite parts of his job is bringing his dog, Zephyr, to work with him every day.

Tell us something about your job that might surprise people.

We use snowmobiles quite a bit in wintertime. A forester here can put up to a thousand miles a year on their machine. We treat our snowmobile like we do a company truck — it’s a tool we need to get out in the woods and do our job.

What advice would you give people who want a job like yours?

Have a passion, even if it's passion for just a small part of your job. If you have a passion, you're going to want to do the job, and do it well. For example, I enjoy building our plans; it’s unique to my job and not something I thought I wanted to do when I started college, but it’s something that really appeals to me.

Image of the new baseball practice field Drew helped build.

A view of the new baseball practice field Drew helped build for the Greenville Recreation team.

When you were young, what did you want to do?

When I was in kindergarten, I loved school buses, so I wanted to be a school bus driver.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work or volunteering?

I'm in the process of building a house. I already cleared the lot and built the driveway myself and will work with the framing crews next. We hope to be finished and in before next winter, so it's going to be a busy summer!