Award Supports Students in Professional Masters Program

A student in the Faculty’s first professional Masters program is the inaugural recipient of an award created by the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP).

The Master of Sustainable Forestry Management (MSFM) is a nine-month professional master’s program that prepares students for careers as professional forest land managers. Now in its sixth year, the program is accredited by the Canadian Forestry Accreditation Board and the Society of American Foresters.

Dr. Stephen Mitchell RPF established and leads the MSFM program. “It’s designed specifically for people who are early in their career who have a relevant academic background and some work experience,” he says.

The MSFM program admits about 20 students each year and now has a network of 83 alumni. 100% of graduates find work in their chosen field.

“The students are highly motivated, and we know we have to meet and exceed their expectations,” Stephen says. “We are very aware of that and we are grateful to have the full support of the Faculty in delivering our program.”

Through their registered charity ForesTrust, ABCFP has established a $30,000 endowment that will provide an annual scholarship for outstanding students in the MSFM program.

“By providing scholarships and bursaries to forestry students through ForesTrust, we are supporting young people who are pursuing a career in forestry and who will play an important role in continuing to sustainably manage BC’s forests for future generations,” says Christine Gelowitz, RPF and CEO of ABCFP.

This year the award went to Matthew Shields. Matt’s background in human geography and urban planning (BA from McGill University) led him to enter UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning. But one year into his studies he found that his growing interest in natural resources planning wasn’t being satisfied.

“I took an eight-month break, then figured that forestry was where I wanted to go. I enrolled in the BSF program and ever since then I feel like one opportunity after another has opened up for me,” he says. “About a year later Professor Peter Marshall recommended that I look into the MSFM program.”

In an unusual move, all students in the MSFM program voted on who would receive the award. “When I found out at the silver ring ceremony that I was going to receive it, I knew it was because of the respect of my colleagues,” Matt says.

He adds, “I really want to thank Steve (Mitchell) and Deb (DeLong, the MSFM program administrator). They have created an exceptional program, one where students are supported in all aspects of their life during their time there. I also want to thank ForesTrust for establishing this award.

Matt has now begun work with B.A. Blackwell and Associates. Bruce Blackwell RPF (BSF 1984, MSc 1989) is a UBC alumnus and Principal of the firm.