Faculty Member Establishes Award for Students Entering Forestry

For many, many Branchlines readers, Dr. Peter Marshall needs no introduction. As a professor since 1983, and Associate Dean Academic of the Faculty of Forestry from 1998 to 2016, literally thousands of students have met him in his office, a classroom, or a forest.

Dr. Marshall received his Bachelors and Masters degrees from University of Toronto, and his PhD from UBC. He is a former President of the Association of BC Forest Professionals and the Canadian Institute of Forestry. His career accomplishments have been recognized twice by the Canadian Institute of Forestry: he received the Canadian Forestry Achievement Award in 2005 and the Presidential Award in 2014.

Peter’s deep empathy with the undergraduate experience has led him to establish an Entrance Award for outstanding under-represented students. “In my role as Associate Dean I saw how often students held down jobs outside of school so they have enough money to study…and they still did well. That says a lot for their abilities, and I want to do my part to ease some of their difficulties,” he says.

The Peter Marshall Centennial Scholar Entrance Award in Forestry is offered to students entering Forestry at UBC who are under-represented in the general Faculty population. This includes Aboriginal students, students from rural communities, immigrant and refugee students, first generation learners, students aging out of care, and students with lower socio-economic status.

“We want to get to a place where the population as a whole is represented in the student body,” Peter says. “I wanted to encourage students who aren’t bursary recipients; who are doing well academically but still struggle financially. I also wanted this award to recognize achievements outside of school. I believe that sports, the arts, or community volunteering can really help a student think more broadly and understand different perspectives.”

The urge to give back to students stems from Peter’s own experience at University of Toronto. “I received some awards as an undergraduate, and they were incredibly valuable in practical terms, and also a tangible recognition of things I had worked hard to achieve,” he says.

The first recipient of Peter’s award is Marley Lightfoot, who transferred to UBC from University of the Fraser Valley in Fall 2016. Marley is in the Urban Forestry program, and hopes eventually to be involved in city planning and urban design.

“Once I found out about the Urban Forestry program, I knew it was the one for me. Every course in the program encompasses what I love, and what I’ve always wanted to learn about,” she says. “Because of this scholarship, my student loans will not be as extensive, as I am trying my very best to minimize the amount of money that I will owe after graduation.”

Peter feels that students like Marley reflect the current and future face of forestry. “Today’s students have wider interests, and they are more international and diverse than even 10 years ago,” he says. “They look beyond the province to see that forestry is very much a national and international profession. What we do has some impact globally and is also affected by what goes on globally. Our students are more aware of this now than ever before.”