GREENVILLE — A Tri-Village graduate who already loves her job gets another treat when autumn arrives each year. Casey Burdick is a service forester with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and every fall for 11 years now, she adds the title of Ohio’s one and only fall color forester.
Burdick, whose maiden name is Munchel, grew up near Hollansburg and graduated from Tri-Village schools in 2000.
“My primary job [as fall color forester] is to field all the media calls that come in with folks interested in where’s the best place to view the fall colors,” Burdick said.
One of her favorite areas is Lake Hope State Park and Zaleski State Forest, in Vinton County Southeastern Ohio. But Darke Countians don’t have to go that far to get a good view of the fall foliage.
“There’s lots of great places,” Burdick said. “Right now the northern two-thirds of Ohio is experiencing near-peak color.”
For Western Ohio, Burdick said perennial favorites for fall color are John Bryan State Park, in Yellow Springs, and Hueston Woods, located in Butler and Preble counties. Lake Loramie State Park, in Shelby and Auglaize counties, and even Shawnee Prairie Preserve, right here in Darke County, also have excellent color this year, Burdick said.
“The weather has been almost perfect this fall,” Burdick said, noting that bright, sunny days and cool but not freezing nights are ideal for the most vibrant fall color.
Burdick said she does all the media reports on the fall color in Ohio. She also does weekly podcasts to let people know what’s going on for recreation and give people ideas for what to do.
“Most people don’t think of Ohio first when they think of beautiful fall color,” Burdick said.
During the rest of the year, Burdick is a service forester with ODNR.
The 2000 Tri-Village graduate went to Ohio State undecided on her major, knowing only that she “really didn’t want to sit at a desk.” So, she tried out some natural resources classes and said she “stumbled into forestry.” She graduated in 2004 with her bachelor’s degree in forestry.
“It’s been a really good experience,” Burdick says of her time with ODNR. “We do a lot of different things with forestry. Many folks don’t realize the resources available to them.”
Burdick said she consults with private landowners on their wooded areas, and there is no fee for her services.
“It’s a great job,” she said. “I meet of a lot of people and talk and walk with them in their woods. I meet a lot of old farmers and old farm dogs. That’s really great. It’s something different every day.”
Burdick encourages those interested in the fall foliage to visit the website at fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov for the weekly update and podcast to see what’s going on this weekend and where the best colors are making their appearance.