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Expanding Our Roots

BC Celebrates National Forest Week

Opportunities for a Forestry Student –World Travel & Studying Overseas
Submitted by Samantha Smolen
UBC Faculty of Forestry Student

UBC Forestry summer student, Samantha Smolen, at work in the Okanagan Valley.

There are a number of opportunities out there for Forestry students to explore, to suit their ambitions and curiosities.  As a person who has much of both, I have decided to take on any opportunity that is offered to me. 

Last May, after finishing my second year in UBC's forestry-focused Natural Resource Conservation program, I took a job as a summer student at Tolko Industries in Kelowna, BC. Since I was in the Co-op program, I was able to extend my work term through to December, rather than doing the usual summer term, a decision which greatly enhanced my experience and development.

When I first arrived at Tolko, I was as ‘Green’ as they come in every sense of the word; I knew little about the job and the industry and was darn near a tree- hugger, but I was keen to learn.  After spending eight months working as a forest technician, doing layout and timber cruising, I now have an understanding of the industry and can explain to my tree-hugging friends how forestry is a sustainable option. I have seen, firsthand, the importance of this industry to our economy, and the necessity of having these ‘working forests’. I have been exposed to all the careful thought and planning that goes into laying out harvest blocks, as well as all the rules and regulations in forest management that are there to protect the animals, the land, and the local communities. I learned a tremendous amount from all my co-workers and regard them as friends and mentors.

I have now embarked upon my next experience, an exchange trip to Norway and Tanzania through UBC's  'Go Global' program, where I will be taking courses at post- secondary institutions that will primarily transfer over to the Global Perspectives portion of my UBC degree.  I will begin my studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, where I will be spending five months enrolled in classes that focus on the Environment and the Community.  Following my time in Norway, I will travel to Tanzania, where I will spend two months taking additional courses.

Although I will be in Norway and Tanzania to continue my studies, I also hope to make connections and network for possible job opportunities in the future. If you would like to find out more about these programs and the opportunities that exist for students to travel the world and learn more about global issues in forestry, check out the following links!! 

UBC Co-op Program:

Natural Resources Conservation Program:

Exchange Program:

University of Norwegian Life Sciences:


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