It is undeniable that one of society’s greatest challenges today is how to maintain and mitigate the environmental risks to our world’s forests and wildlife. The University of New Brunswick’s Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management (UNB ForEM) understands this all too well. As a leading institution in forestry and the natural resource sector with a history of graduating students for over 100 years, UNB ForEM is dedicated to cultivating capable and empathetic leaders who can manage and tackle the effects of climate change on the environment.
Undergraduate and postgraduate programs at ForEM offer a holistic approach to forestry and environmental management. Students are provided with the knowledge necessary to maintain and ensure conservation of forests and wildlife, and they are also exposed to the various beliefs, values, and needs of the global community. With this, students can better understand environmental issues faced by the world today and develop appropriate solutions.
Postgraduate students at ForEM typically have backgrounds in natural sciences, biology, geography and forestry, with a good grasp of the English language. Most are attracted to ForEM’s specific focus on environmental management. “I was immediately drawn to this program because of its interdisciplinary approach,” says Master of Environmental Management student Kayleigh Chaston-Vickers. “I appreciated that this program offered a broad and critical perspective into environmental issues. It doesn’t just view the environment or environmental stewardship as a scientific problem to solve, but a situation dependent on solutions informed by all perspectives of society.” This holistic, multi-pronged interdisciplinary approach gives ForEM graduates a competitive edge over graduates from other institutions.
ForEM offers undergraduate programmes, as well. The Bachelor of Science in Forestry focuses on forested land management, planning and design. As part of the programme, students collaborate on projects with scientists and managers at a number of forest companies and organisations across the region.
The Bachelor of Science in Environment and Natural Resources, on the other hand, trains students to better understand ecosystems, their dependent species’, and how they are affected by human activities. “I really liked how the course made you ponder about environmental issues and practices,” shares Maria Hernandez. Classes are made up of a diverse community of students and faculty members from Canada and around the world. “I like the sociological aspect of it, but I also really like how international students are encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives. It made me feel welcome.”
As careers in forestry and environmental management are largely practical, ForEM focuses on a hands-on educational approach which allows students to apply their classroom learning to in-the-field situations. Students are given exclusive access to five private parcels of forest land totalling over 3,000 hectares set amidst the picturesque backdrop of Atlantic Canada. “You are out in the woods with friends every week, learning all about what being a Forester or Environmental Specialist entails — all while making some pretty sweet memories,” says Olivia Blizzard, who’s pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Forestry.
On top of this, over 75 % of ForEM undergraduate courses involve hands-on discovery and problem-solving in computer, indoor and outdoor labs, as well as in the field. Students are trained to navigate state-of-the-art technology and tools, including GIS, LiDAR, Remote Sensing and Remsoft. This ultimately creates students who are capable and well-prepared to enter a career in natural resources.
To encourage this, ForEM welcomes a host of organisations annually, including a number of tier one companies, to interview and hire students for high-demand, well-paying jobs across Canada and the world. Undergraduate students are also given the option to enrol in a summer professional internship course for credit. “You get the chance to travel in the summers, while also making money and gaining tons of experience in your field,” shares Blizzard. “My favourite summer was spent in Sussex, NB with J.D. Irving, where I worked as a Silviculture Assistant. I really got to see what the Forest Industry was all about.” Students can earn 15,000 Canadian dollars during their work summer terms — with over 50% of students graduating debt-free as a result of this.
Outside of the classroom, ForEM places a particular emphasis on cultivating a supportive learning environment where faculty members, staff and students celebrate and support one another. This includes one-on-one academic advising, coaching in resume writing and job interviews, mental health support, and regular faculty liaison meetings with students to maintain a high level of student satisfaction. In addition, students’ achievements are celebrated and recognised through student award ceremonies and internal channels.
Financial support is readily available to students. Over a third of undergraduate students are supported financially through scholarships, and research-based graduate students enjoy faculty member research project funding. Students who require non-academic support are not exempt from financial aid, either. “The faculty offered their help when the house I was living in burned down,” recalls Hernandez.
ForEM students are guaranteed a rewarding and enriching educational experience. “It’s a great feeling to come out of a programme and recognize that you have the potential to make a real impact on the environment,” says Blizzard. Chaston-Vickers agrees with this. “[My courses] definitely strengthened my ability to hold a position on pressing issues surrounding the environment. I was able to do this not blindly, but with articulate thought, whilst also having the humility to change positions after considering other perspectives.”