Southern Timberlands Summer Internships Cultivate Tomorrow’s Leaders

Summer interns from across our Southern Timberlands regions prepare for a tour of our Philadelphia, Mississippi, lumber mill.

Earlier this summer, Southern Timberlands hosted a three-day event for the 18 summer interns working across its regions. The opportunity allowed these early-career professionals the chance to expand horizons, cultivate networks and infuse their burgeoning careers with a sense of curiosity and purpose.

“We wanted to create an immersive experience that not only nurtures their professional journey but also kindles enthusiasm for both Weyerhaeuser and the industry at large,” says DeAnna Carpenter, a silviculture forester based in Thomasville, Alabama, who actively recruits new employees in her region and helped organize the event.

The event was a mixture of presentations and field visits, including seminars on possible career paths presented by former interns and Timberlands professional development candidates, a company overview — including a deep dive into our values — and field tours of a forest-thinning operation, our Pearl River Nursery and our Philadelphia, Mississippi, sawmill.

And while the event is certainly a highlight of the summer, most interns say their entire summer experience leaves a long-lasting impression.

Image of Clari closing off a trafficked right-of-way wehn the team discovered gopher tortoises nearby.

Clari closes off a trafficked right-of-way when the team discovered gopher tortoises nearby.


Clari Gregson is a student at Auburn University in Alabama. Her father is a forester, but she didn’t expect to follow in his footsteps — until she explored forestry and attended a nine-week camp last summer, realizing it was the right path for her.

“When I applied for internships last fall, Weyerhaeuser was one of the first companies I interviewed with,” she says. “I was thrilled to be selected.”

Based at our Timberlands office in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for her internship, Clari was impressed by the range of experiences available for interns at Weyerhaeuser — rotations through silviculture, harvest planning, forest management, and roads and bridges.

“I got to dip my toes into many different things beyond the scope of my summer project,” she says.

Each of our interns creates and focuses on a special project for part of their internship. Clari’s centered on inspecting bridges for safety and environmental compliance.

“We examined dimensions like length, width and height and assessed those against best practices and standards,” she says. “We checked the deck and bridge support for wear and tear, and the banks to make sure no erosion or sediment was entering the stream. If the road leading to the bridge was overgrown, we addressed that, too.”

Every step of the way, Clari was guided by seasoned veterans.

“I was really impressed that everyone was so willing to help me learn,” she says. “That’s what I’ll miss most when I’m back at school: learning from these awesome people.”

Image of interns taking part in a summer event during a tour at our Pearl River container nursery in Mississippi.

Part of the summer event included a tour of our Pearl River container nursery in Mississippi. The black block at left is one of the containers that’s filled with growing medium and planted with a seed.


Quentin Boccaleri, a recent graduate of Mississippi State University who completed his second internship with us this summer, is a testament to the power of internships in shaping young careers and helping interns zero in on specific interests. During his general internship in our Meridian, Mississippi, Timberlands office last summer, a conversation about inventory planning tapped into his passion for statistical analysis. This summer, he returned to work with Tommy Tadlock in inventory planning on a special project focused on deciphering the nuances of trees-per-acre variances.

“I’m returning to school in the fall as a master’s candidate in forest biometrics, so this work was a perfect fit,” Quentin says. “And the general experience last summer was essential to becoming a well-rounded forester. Without it, I would have never made the connections that allowed me to specialize this year.”

In fact, making connections has been the most valuable aspect of Quentin’s internship experience.

“Meeting the leadership and absorbing organizational wisdom straight from the source has been eye-opening — and everyone has been so approachable,” Quentin says, relaying a story about how Aaron Welch, vice president of Southern Timberlands, proactively introduced himself after seeing Quentin wearing a Weyerhaeuser hat in the parking lot of the intern event.

“Building connections with fellow interns and professionals and learning from leadership have been the highlights of my internships,” Quentin says. “These experiences not only prepared me for my grad school journey but also gave me a deeper understanding of forestry operations, data analysis and the significance of safety. I'm grateful for the opportunity.”

Image of Quentin preparing to do a field test.

Quentin preparing to do a field test.


Christian Blackburn, a student from Clemson University in South Carolina, didn’t even have Weyerhaeuser on his radar before the internship.

“I saw some promotional Weyerhaeuser socks at the table as a giveaway, and I happen to collect interesting socks, so the recruiter and I got to talking,” Christian says with a laugh. “I didn’t know much about the company or the opportunities, but I realized there might be a fit.”

The internship helped him embark on a journey of self-discovery. Initially interested in studying wildlife and land management, Christian is now focusing more on the business side of agriculture. And for his special project, Christian worked with Andrew Brown, environmental manager, to analyze LiDAR scans to detect snags, dead trees and vegetation left after harvest.

“The exposure to different aspects of forestry has broadened my perspective and enriched my understanding of the industry,” he says. “There’s so much I didn’t know.”

Image of the group on a forest visit to our Brookhaven region in Mississippi.

The group on a forest visit in our Brookhaven region in Mississippi.

As for the summer event, that, too, was a learning experience.

“Meeting fellow summer interns allowed me to witness the group’s diverse interests — some were forestry majors, while others were studying wildlife or data and analytics. While my academic studies have shifted from a wildlife background to focusing more on numbers, data analysis and modeling, I'm still navigating my career path. I really appreciated how my internship allowed me to branch into a different direction and learn there's much more to forestry than meets the eye.”

Image of Christian holding a Clemson flag in our timberlands near Lewisburg, W.V.

Christian holds a Clemson flag in our Timberlands near Lewisburg, West Virginia.


In many ways, Clari’s, Quentin’s and Christian’s experiences are representative of the entire 2023 intern class. From igniting curiosity to fostering growth, the summer intern experience is one of many ways the company aims to contribute to the next generation's success.

“Witnessing the interns’ enthusiasm and growth has been immensely gratifying,” DeAnna says. “We don’t just plant trees; we also sow the seeds of knowledge and foster passions that will shape the future of forestry.”