Division of Archives and Records Service

ARO Spotlight: Utah Department of Natural Resources: Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands

Matt Pierce
December 6, 2022

Katie Ricks is the Administrative Assistant and Records Officer for the Utah Department of Natural Resources in the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands. We recently had the chance to work closely with Katie for a large records transfer and we were impressed with her skills and organization. Let’s learn more about Katie and her division…

Tell us about a RIM project you’ve worked on.

Katie Ricks is the Administrative Assistant and Records Officer for the Utah Department of Natural Resources in the Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands.

Our division did a massive spring cleaning this year and judging by the sheer volume of stuff that was sent to surplus, thrown out, or piled up to sort through it was a project decades in the making. The goal of this project was twofold: to get rid of unnecessary items to create additional workspace, and to finally organize our long-term files so they are easily accessible. With this project we came across long forgotten boxes dating as far back as the 1970s that had the outward appearance of containing historical documents and memorabilia. On closer inspection this assumption was partially true, but also quite a bit of it was the result of new employees cleaning out the filing cabinets of old employees who didn’t know what to do with it. So, they boxed it up, and stuck it in our long-term document section of our warehouse, out of sight out of mind. As it goes, no one over the decades dared or cared to throw out other people’s items so the piles kept growing.

What have you found most challenging about your job?
Going through these long-forgotten filing cabinets and boxes took time.  Some relics like piles of equipment catalogs or contact lists from before I was born were easy to know what to do with, but it became daunting when trying to identify an official looking document no longer used by our division, and then not being able to find it listed on a retention schedule. I called the Archive office for some advice and met Matthew Pierce who graciously offered to come and go through these items with me. He was able to make sense of the madness and give clear guidelines of what needed to be done with all the uncertain documents.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I rather enjoyed seeing our division grow and evolve through pictures, projects, committees formed and completed. Some of the same goals we still focus on today, like forest health or field crew safety, while other big issues we have managed in the past like flood water management seem so foreign compared to what we see today. Those snapshot glimpses of times past have given me a new perspective of where we have been and where we are going as a division. 

What advice would you give other records officers and managers?
Be the hero of Records Officers and Administrative Assistants of generations to come. Label your archive-approved storage boxes with the file contents and list the retention schedule and  dates. When in doubt, reach out and utilize the resources the archive team has to offer.