Brainstorming Session Mind Map

Hi Shawna, Chris, et al!

See below for an interactive mind map of our brainstorming session and associated skills and experience I feel would be valuable to each topic/project area. You can start in the middle and then follow the numbered topics by clicking first on the center bubble and then clicking on each surrounding “primary skills” logo bubble for more information.

Though responsive, if you’re viewing on a mobile device you may need to resize the screen to view the pop-up boxes. Vertical orientation works best.


Resume and Biographical Sketch





Potential Opportunities:

Thanks again for sitting down with me to discuss ways I can contribute to the region while getting that high level federal experience that will make it possible for me to better compete with internal candidates.  I really do hope that AD work is a possibility, though I’m still willing to volunteer if it means getting the chance to demonstrate my skills.

Much of what you’ll see here is based on my perceptions of your needs -- without a whole of lot of information to go on.  But I can certainly adapt once I’m able to get a clearer picture of how I can contribute and what challenges or opportunities need to be addressed.

You can navigate this mind map by clicking on the main (numbered) topic bubbles and then by clicking on each surrounding “primary skills” bubble (showing logos/icons that reflect my work experience).  The secondary and tertiary skills bubbles are simple text showcasing a few core skills that I think might have value to each main topic area.

- Bethany



I received a Masters of Arts in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Wildland Fire Management and Communications in 2015 from Prescott College.  I have strong research experience and analytical skills gained through both my studies and professional experience. The following skills may be valuable to this project:
  • I am experienced using both ethnographic and oral history interviewing techniques, enabling me to quickly develop rapport with interviewees, get down to the heart of the issue, and to develop questions that elicit strong data.
  • I am skilled at both qualitative and quantitative analysis, though my strengths really lay qualitative analysis. I am able to collect and code narratives, identify themes and patterns, and communicate results in an efficient, down-to-earth manner.
  • I am trained in communication theory and techniques, including theory of motivated reasoning, critical discourse analysis, and framing theory. This enables me to identify and leverage interpretive communities and develop persuasive and influential messaging that can accompany quantitative data to provide better context.
  • I am skilled at using digital storytelling techniques. I am highly adept at sharing stories and data using a variety of multi-media skills and tools.

Click here to read a letter of recommendation by my core faculty (written for a recent grant application).

Click here to read my Master’s Thesis: The Smokey Generation: A Wildland Fire Oral History and Digital Storytelling Project.



From our brief discussion, it sounds like you are interested in creating fire “storyboards” or essentially a chronicle of a given fire that may serve a couple of purposes:
  1. Capture the timelines and decision-making processes for initial attack periods to serve as both a record of action and a tool to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of decision-making.
  2. Provide a system and tool to capture and communicate the voice of the employees who participated in the initial and extended attack processes. Use these narratives as instruments of learning, assets for cultural transformation initiatives, and to provide visibility on workforce dynamics.
  3. Use pieces of these chronicles as source materials for fire information and public relations to better communicate management philosophies and the greater narrative of wildland fire.
I haven’t yet received examples of existing storyboards, so I’m not entirely sure this is on the mark, but regardless, my goal would be to create processes, systems, and tools that would enable these fire chronicles to be quickly implemented, easily replicated, and straightforward for reviewers.  In reality, these could be web-based and work to provide both historical data and near real-time information for an internal audience. Please click on each related primary skill bubble to see how my experience and skill set can translate to this project.


I founded as part of my Master’s thesis and have continued to expand the project; it is now a pending non-profit.  It is a celebration of wildland firefighters telling the stories of their lives and experiences. These stories are entertaining, historically valuable, and allow us to explore our relationship with wildland fire and the natural world.  Projects in the works include wildland fire historical photo archives, collaborations on books and film, and an upcoming virtual round-robin panel discussion with representatives from the press, tribal communities, academia, fire science, and traditional land managers. Skills that would be valuable to chronicling fires include:
  • I am skilled at interviewing wildland firefighters using both audio and video. I have my own equipment that can be used without having the added expense of hiring a NIFC videographer.
  • I am very adept at developing rapport with wildland firefighters, using my operational background and simple genuine friendliness to help people open up and trust the process.
  • I have a well-established organizational system that enables me to log and use audio and video footage (I currently have more than 65 interviews (totaling nearly 400 short videos). This skill is extremely important when using qualitative data.
  • I am skilled at basic editing and publishing techniques, enabling me to turn-around finished audio-visual products quickly.
  • I know how to develop and implement digital storytelling techniques. I have broad web development and design skills.
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I have owned a federal resume writing company that serves the wildland fire community since 2007.  The following are skills that easily translate.
  • I have a business mindset that lets me easily identify opportunities, exposure to risk, and patterns of behavior. This will help to ensure a comprehensive, agency-focused product.
  • I interview clients to get very detail-oriented data on a near daily basis.
  • I am an expert in Microsoft Word and can quickly put together highly effective documents that are well-organized, visually appealing, and easy-to-read.
  • I have thorough knowledge of the wildland fire organization, from position descriptions to incident qualification requirements.

Engagement Sessions

Because our discussion was brief, I’m not entirely certain if the engagement sessions you are focusing on are for internal or external participants (or both).  However, I have wide-ranging experience facilitating meetings and discussions, as well as producing reports outlining the exchange of ideas.  Please click on the primary skills bubbles (logos) for transferable experience.


I worked at Avue Technologies Corporation for two years, working with eleven federal clients, including the U.S. Forest Service.  I traveled to Washington D.C. weekly for approximately seven months at the beginning of my tenure, participating in high level negotiations, working groups, and training sessions with clients and partners, such as the National Finance Center, Department of Justice, Peace Corps, Capitol Police, and more. I directed their training and education program, which included extensive travel and training sessions throughout the country.  The following are skills that would be valuable to coordinating and facilitating engagement sessions with both internal and external audiences:
  • I am comfortable in meetings and negotiations with high-level decision makers, in both supportive and active roles. This can easily translate to working with agency partners.
  • I have extensive coordination, leadership, and management skills gained from directing the training program for multiple clients, including running concurrent training program covering a variety of human resource and workforce management topics, each with their own parameters.
  • I am skilled at using, designing, and troubleshooting data-driven technology platforms. This includes working with developers to create tools that allow people to engage in workshops, working groups, and meetings from dispersed locations.
  • I have the ability to relate to people at all levels of the organization, facilitate discussions with opposing viewpoints, and educate/train people from all walks of life.


I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English from Evergreen State College in 2003.  In addition to coursework in English and literature, I studied the political ecology and environmental history of wildland fire.  Evergreen utilizes a seminar-based learning environment, which gave me the following skills:
  • I am adept at facilitating discussions around contentious topics.
  • I have the ability to redirect conversations in a diplomatic way if they go off topic.
  • I am highly proficient at taking an interdisciplinary approach to projects. I have the ability to incorporate the viewpoints and information from disparate functional areas and disciplines and find common ground.


This is on the periphery, but I worked as a national level instructor of conservation work skills for The Student Conservation Association (spanning a decade).  Because of the caliber of crew leaders I taught, and outdoor focus of those individuals, I gained extensive experience in experiential education and communication techniques.  This can translate to the wildland fire community in the following way:
  • Wildland firefighters and managers almost all come from operational, field-based backgrounds and learn best by doing. I am skilled at reading an audience/group and determining how and when to incorporate engaging activities that trigger their creative problem-solving skills regardless of the format of the meeting (e.g., they are usually best on their feet, I work to leverage those skills in the office/meeting rooms).


As a wildland fire history project, The Smokey Generation ( is resonating with all types of people, from the general public, to folks in the wildland fire suppression world.  This has opened up a whole new network of personal and professional contacts, which allows me to:
  • Engage with the public in a very deliberate and dedicated manner, including through social media tools. I can apply these engagement tools in innovative and interesting ways.
  • I have developed a nationwide network of fire managers and practitioners, from consortiums to private foundations. I am able to tap into expertise at all levels.
  • I have worked hard to develop a reputation as someone who is passionate about fire, interested in people’s experiences, and able to acknowledge different viewpoints without diminishing someone’s perspective. These are all traits that are essential to engaging with other people to develop creative solutions to emerging and ongoing problems.
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Workforce Development Initiatives

Although we didn’t talk in-depth on this topic, I believe that my skills could be of value to numerous workforce development initiatives.  Please click on the primary skills bubbles (logos) for more.


I only have a limited view of agency processes these days, but I believe that there are unexplored opportunities to improve supervisor and employee engagement in workforce development, streamline personnel management processes, and increase visibility for succession planning by using new technology platforms.  For example, by moving individual development plan and performance appraisal processes to a hosted platform (which could also interface with IQCS and, potentially, ROSS), you could streamline priority trainee list processes across the region (or nation) by using a simple algorithm, and drastically increase visibility on succession planning by analyzing the newly accessible data.  By comparing IDP data with forecasted operational and organizational needs, we can reveal discrepancies in organizational plans and forecast operational qualifications bottlenecks. This would also create a checks and balances system for supervisory involvement in workforce development on a number of fronts.

My experience at Avue Technologies Corporation provided me with a unique way to look at federal human resources problems and opportunities and understand how automated systems could be implemented to address those problems or opportunities.  For example:

  • I was involved in technology platform design and development, from both a redesign angle and, to a smaller degree, developing new platform components and parameters.
  • I understand the complex nature of federal human resource management processes and systems, including the steps needed to automate those processes, how to address constraints posed by union agreements, and design considerations that need to be based on targeted user behavior.
  • I have experience leading technology roll-outs that take deeply entrenched manual processes and, using training and education, initiate the successful adoption of new technology by employees and managers alike.

USFS and BLM Fire Experience

I spent seven seasons in the operational side of fire, six on Hotshot crews (for both the BLM and USFS).  There lay my roots: I am dedicated to supporting the people on the ground.  However, I am a big believer that cultural transformation needs to happen.  I also believe that it can be successful if it uses people-centric, data-driven change management techniques.  In other words, I understand the cultural areas that urgently need focused transformation, the techniques needed to avoid disruptive responses to change, and the ultimate need of the agency to achieve its vision without sustained pushback from the field.  Hotshotting instilled in me a solution-oriented mindset: I adamantly believe that cultural transformation can occur much more rapidly than previously thought through deliberate, strategic, and dedicated leadership and creative implementation.  And, I believe that when cultural transformation is achieved, many of our workforce development issues will lessened or disappear altogether. ihc-logo


I’ve owned my business for nearly a decade and that has given me a unique perspective on USFS FAM hiring practices.  I used to say that FAM didn’t have a hiring problem, it had a recruitment problem (when speaking about diversity, workforce development, employee advancement, and retention).  I wholeheartedly believe that a truly effective and strategic recruiting initiative would solve diversity issues at the temporary level within three years and the permanent level within 10 years. 

However, in the last couple of years, I’ve witnessed a substantial breakdown of the Fire Hire process from an applicant and manager standpoint (and superfluous workload demands from an HR standpoint).  Case in point: clients routinely send me “confidential” Fire Hire evaluation criteria when they send me their supporting documents, indicating a systemic problem with both SMEs and applicants.  Additionally, nearly 80% of new clients come to me with content that I’ve written for somebody else in their resume.  These are just two pieces of evidence that illustrate the current system is ineffective and/or damaged.

I have a full understanding of the HR process through my work with AVUE, including the federal HR rules and regulations.  I have a comprehensive understanding of the issues that stem from the applicant side, through my business.  And, I have a good understanding of the problems from a manager’s perspective (due to my clients).  I would happily give up my business (and possibly my right foot) to be able to lead the development of solutions to fix the existing recruiting, hiring, and retention problems.  I’ve got ideas and the tenacity to see it through, if given the opportunity.


Growth, Respect, and Opportunities Workshop

We spoke briefly about the possibility of helping with the G.R.O.W. coordination.  I understand that the workshop was well attended with approximately 300 employees, and generally well received as an avenue to learn and exchange ideas.  What I don’t know is if action has been taken continue to exchange of information following the workshop and if any action has been taken as a result of the ideas that were exchanged during the workshop.

In addition to the experience and skills identified in the associated primary skills bubbles, I can tell you that I would also be able to develop an online platform to summarize and continue the conversations following this next year’s workshop.  I would focus, also, on gathering assets that would allow people who weren’t able to attend, to gain knowledge and information from the workshop – namely video, audio, interviews, and written documents that could be developed into multi-media products and materials that would further the exchange of information beyond the workshop.


Management Staff and Board of Advisors Member for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival

I have extensive experience coordinating large scale events -- I help run a music festival each summer with attendance that is tracked at 16,000 attendees (in a town with a population of 900), and we manage a staff of more than 70 and an additional volunteer pool of more than 250.  I can easily translate these skills to help coordinate G.R.O.W.  For example:
  • I provide oversight of a budget in excess of $500K and the festival is responsible for supporting the exchange of an estimated $2.8M over the weekend, a huge economic boost for one of the poorest counties in Montana.
  • I implemented a modified ICS structure to manage the festival. Additionally, I manage all logistics for the festival, from security to infrastructure.
  • I am fully adept at integrating with current and local workforces and teams to ensure smooth operations.
  • I facilitate numerous operations and special functional areas, such as demonstrations and award ceremonies.
  • I manage teams that hail from all over the country, including coordinating conference calls, working groups, and strategic planning sessions.
  • I managed the paid advertising and press for the 2013 festival, managing a $13K budget and securing nearly $10K of in-trade advertising. I can help develop marketing and press release materials to help promote G.R.O.W. as a successful initiative for the agency (and for FAM).

MBAxAmerica – Field Director, Operations

I supported the initial start-up of a non-profit called MBAs Across America, a movement of Masters of Business Administration students from top business schools and entrepreneurs working together to revitalize America.  Here are a few skills that could help support the G.R.O.W. conference:
  • I gained an expansive network of entrepreneurs tackling some of the country’s most pressing social, cultural, and economic issues. I can tap into this network to find some of the most innovative, solution-oriented minds to provide input.
  • I developed processes and systems to track the exchange of ideas and logistical needs of multiple teams traveling throughout the country. I always work to create processes and systems that reduce costs and time demands, and that can be replicated year-to-year.
  • I created and implemented collaborative tracking, measurement, and reporting tools for the program.


Part of my job as Director of Training and Education was to develop curricula and training sessions that were engaging and highly informative.  For example, I was responsible for transferring high level federal human resources information to all levels of employees, from folks who didn’t know how to use computers, to top level agency human resource officers.  The following are skills that I believe would easily transfer:
  • I am skilled at engaging and reading audiences and am proficient at facilitating tough, contentious, or complex conversations.
  • I demand a high standard from presenters and instructors and am able to compel people to bring their very best to the table, resulting in high quality discourse and training.
  • I understand many of the human resource management issues that affect federal processes and systems revolving around employee development, satisfaction, and workplace successes/failures.

The U.S. Hotshots Association – Cultural and Web Design

I have been involved in the development of the new U.S. Hotshots Association (USHA) as their web designer.  Through this process I have been able to help direct the Board of Director’s vision of the association ( the BOD is made up of all retired superintendents) and identify cultural nuances that can be both hindrances and benefits to the wildland fire community as a whole.  I’ve included this here because of the following:
  • I have rapport with all levels of the hotshot community and believe that, in many ways, they represent some of the more prominent areas where cultural transformation needs to take place. I believe I could help bring them into the conversation and perhaps, with that, they might take the lead on exchanging practical solutions and implement opportunities discussed at the workshop.
  • Along with my experience building, my website development skills can be seen on the super-secret “staging” site where I’m building the USHA site: (please don’t share, as some of the functionality is shut down for development purposes) and the site will be launched (hopefully) later this week on:  I share this because I think building out a forum or website to share the outcomes of the workshop would be valuable and would provide more of a return on the investment.
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