KC serves as Nevada’s first female acting state forester
FAST FACT: Behind the last name
One the most common questions KC gets asked is about her last name.
It hasn’t changed much from her maiden name, Kester.
But when she married her husband, whom she met in Nepal, his surname was initialed K.C.
In Nepali, it stands for Khatri-Chhetri and both are some of the most popular surnames in Nepal.
However, it’s also common to abbreviate Nepali surnames. When she and her husband moved back to the United States in 2002, he was required to remove the punctuations from his last name to obtain an ID in the country, which changed it to “KC.”
Nevada is the first state her husband visited in United States.
KC married her husband after she was hired for a seasonal role at NDF. Together, they have two girls, 11 and 9 years old.
Despite the expected intensity of this year’s fire season, it’s an exciting time for Kacey KC, as she is the first female to be declared acting state forester within the Nevada Division of Forestry.
Before KC, there were seven state foresters in Nevada. Her promotion as interim ensued when former state forester, Joe Freeland, resigned in October 2016 following the Little Valley Fire. She became acting as of April.
She served as deputy administrator for a year before she was selected to the new role.
“I feel excited for the opportunities ahead of this team,” she said. “We have time to grow from past experiences and perfect what we do. It’s an exacting time to move forward.”
This past week has been a busy one for KC with the recent wildfires near Brunswick Canyon, Topaz Lake, and Truckee. KC said she’s worried about this year’s fire season, as the area’s wet winter produced a large amount of cheatgrass.
However, the NDF hired more seasonal firefighters — 37 recruits statewide — compared to what they had in the last three years.
As part of preparations, KC said one of her main goals is to continue to build the training program and achieve national standards, in order to ensure quality protection statewide.
“The fires are here but we’re on top of it,” she said. “We’ve kept the fires small, along with our other teams.”
KC began her career at NDF in 2002 after graduating from the University of Montana, with a bachelor’s in forestry resource and conservation.
But two years before that, she was serving as community forester in Nepal as part of the Peace Corps.
In a country that’s almost the same size as Tennessee, she worked with local groups and helped developed plans to manage land, as forests there were degraded by landslides.
During her time there, KC also lived with a host family, learned Nepali, and met her husband.
“I learned way more from those in Nepal than they learned from me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience. Working with a different culture and environment helped me develop my skills and ability as a forester.”
KC describes herself as a family-orientated person. She returned to her home in Gardnerville, where she graduated from Douglas High School in 1995.
KC said she always knew she wanted to pursue forestry, especially when she received a scholarship in forestry in high school.
“I’ve always enjoyed the open spaces and natural resources in Nevada,” she said. “I’ve spent a majority of my career at NDF and I’m excited to make a difference.”