Arnold Hameister of Conway recently retired from the Arkansas Forestry Commission after 37 years of service.
Though he ends his career as the Best Management Practices for Water Quality program coordinator, Hameister has served the AFC through multiple roles since his career began in the 1980s.
Hameister told the Log Cabin Democrat that even though he graduated with a business degree, he soon found out that he would much rather serve among the trees.
“I like the outdoors, and I like working in God’s creation,” Hameister said. “I enjoy the people that I work with, and I have had the privilege of getting to know and work with some great people."
Hameister started his career with the AFC in 1981 as a tower operator in Heber Springs, where he monitored areas looking for signs of fire.
After six months on the job, Hameister was hired on as a full-time ranger, keeping his tower duties but also being physically sent out to the fires.
In 1990, Hameister and his family moved to Conway, where he became a county ranger for Faulkner County.
In this position, Hameister says he worked with landowners and local fire departments, fighting fires.
“I did a lot of relationship building within the county,” he said.
Nearly a decade later, Hameister was hired into the BMP as a specialist before becoming the program coordinator in 2006.
A celebration was held in his honor at the Department of Agriculture headquarters in Little Rock on June 29.
Accompanying Hameister was his wife, Shari, their son, Aaron, and his sister-in-law, Pam Cravens with her husband Tom.
“They got to share in that experience with me, and that meant a lot to me. With any career, your family has to be there and support you as well, and they were a big support to me,” Hameister said.
Also in attendance were many agency officials including State Forrester Joe Fox and Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward.
“I was very humbled and very honored by the people that were there. They were very gracious to me in expressing their gratitude for the work I did,” Hameister said.
In a recent Facebook post, the AFC expressed that gratitude.
“Thank you Arnold for a dedicated career. Your kindness, sense of humor, and wealth of knowledge will be greatly missed. The entire forestry community appreciates how deeply you've cared about forestry and water quality initiatives across the state,” the post reads.
As for retirement plans, Hameister says he wants to take his wife on a trip to visit all of the Arkansas state parks, and also wants to travel to the east coast to see the lighthouses.
In regards to his nearly 40 years working among the trees, Hameister has nothing but good memories to share.
“I really Like what I do. I think everybody has certain gifts and talents and I was just able to take and use those gifts and talents in doing something I really like to do, so I never felt like it was really work,” he said with a smile. “God has really blessed me [with] a career that I really love.”