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Student story

Robyn Patient

20 July 2023

Te Arawa, Ngāi Te Rangi

"I enjoy the optimistic focus of the Forestry Science degree..."


Following her passion in conservation led Robyn to UC’s Bachelor of Forestry Science, and a career goal to make business practices more culturally aware and eco-friendly for future generations.

"I am very interested in the value of kaitiakitanga, which means to be a guardian of the environment. Sustainable living and the environmental impact of New Zealand industries have always interested me," she says.

The Forestry degree was a surprise discovery after one of UC’s open days, which answered her interests in biology and human geography in a unique way.

"Forestry Science is the best mash up of a range of different degrees, with a focus of trees. There are many different areas and themes to the Forestry Science degree like commerce, biology, geography, conservation, law, and statistics. You might find out that it fits perfectly with what you enjoy learning about."

As the only university in the country to offer a professional Forestry Science degree, Robyn made the move to Christchurch and enrolled with a UC Undergraduate Scholarship.

The programme quickly delivered with a holistic view of the global forestry industry, and field trips to plantation sites around Canterbury.

"I enjoy the optimistic focus of the Forestry Science degree," she says. "I have found that a key driver behind this study is the importance of sustainable practices and policy. This perspective clearly highlights how important forestry growth is to maximise the beneficial services of forests for future generations. Another aspect of the degree that I enjoy is that critical thinking and criticism is encouraged."

Robyn has also been able to integrate her own kaupapa into studies.

"Forest practices in New Zealand and across the globe have the potential to be unsustainable, unethical, socially disruptive, and culturally insensitive. Forestry Science discourages this and suggests alternative directions and mitigation strategies to prevent these practices both in New Zealand and across the globe.

"My study involves learning about the economic, environmental, and social functions of forests. This involves learning about the commercial and economic systems behind running a forest business. Also, learning how to analyse the success of forest firms and the importance of forests to a range of different cultures, countries, and economies."

Her passion and commitment to studies have been recognised right from year one, as a recipient of scholarship funding through Wood Industry Development and Education Trust Ltd (WIDE Trust), and as one of eight recipients of the Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau Scholarship. This includes funding and summer internships with Te Uru Rākau each year of her degree.

"So far, this scholarship has been an amazing experience. From meeting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister Shane Jones, to being able to contribute to conversations about the future of forestry with Te Uru Rākau and the Ministry of Primary Industries."

Another exciting opportunity through studies is a volunteering programme in Fiji at the end of her first year, working with conservation organisations on spreading awareness of Fijian marine life in classrooms.

All in all, Robyn’s experiences so far in Forestry Science at UC have proven invaluable to her academic and personal development.

"I have enjoyed the culture of UC the most," she says. "My lecturers so far have been very interactive, knowledgeable, and genuinely make lectures fun and entertaining. Also, UC has incredible science and engineering facilities with modern learning spaces.

"The mentorship opportunities have been really helpful with the transition from high school to university. I am a part of the Māori Development Team. First year students studying towards an Engineering degree are allocated two mentors who regularly hold study sessions to help with understanding assessments and lectures thoroughly."

After graduating, Robyn plans to go into a conservation or environmentally focused role.

"Forests will become incredibly more important as New Zealand strives towards planting 1 billion trees and a net zero carbon future."

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