'I could see the real-world applications for the skills I was learning...'
Bachelor of Forestry Science with Honours
Environmental Officer, Fulton Hogan
'There's a lot more to a Forestry degree than trees and timber!' Melissa says. 'In addition to learning about managing forests and producing timber, you learn about ecology, conservation, business management, road engineering, statistical analysis, genetics, soil science, geospatial analysis, economics, and more.'
Indeed, it was these aspects that spurred Melissa to study a Forestry Science degree at UC, rather than her initial plan to study Engineering due to 'a strong dislike of Physics.'
'Looking through a College of Engineering prospectus, I saw a section on Forestry and thought that the degree's combination of management, economics, biology and engineering was appealing. The fact that forestry graduates were in high demand was an added bonus. Once I started the degree I never looked back.'
Melissa enjoyed the emphasis on practical learning that her degree offers.
'The BForSc degree involved spending time in lectures and labs learning theory and science, but we also spent a lot of time out in the field learning practical skills. Rather than just writing essays on forestry, we learned skills we can use in the workplace by completing assignments that simulated a forestry management project. In the final year, we worked in teams to solve a real-life management problem provided by a forestry company.
'Studying forestry was enjoyable because I could see the real-world applications for the skills I was learning,' she says.
Upon completing her honours, Melissa was motivated to carry on her studies through to master's level.
'At a time when the government was reviewing national forestry resource management policy, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to conduct original research which could aid the review process. My postgraduate study focussed on the environmental best practices for forestry earthworks operations. Hopefully my research will further the development of rules and guidelines which will improve outcomes for both the industry and the environment.
'There was no contest when I was choosing where to study as a postgraduate. The School of Forestry even helped me to secure funding for my research.'
Melissa has certainly proved her abilities through an impressive list of awards. She has received the UC Emerging Leader's Scholarship Forestry Award for academic and community involvement, the UC Summer Scholarship conducting research in the North Island, the School of Forestry Summer Scholarship to publish her research, and the Ministry of Primary Industries Sustainable Land Management and Climate Change scholarship for her postgraduate studies.
'The School of Forestry staff are all really supportive and go out of their way to help students. It was good to know that I could always drop into a lecturer's office to ask for help when needed. The University offers great support for postgraduate students; the workshops on research methods and writing a thesis were really helpful.'
Melissa's master's research proved to be a good gateway into her current role at Fulton Hogan as an Environmental Officer, which she says 'attests to the versatility of the degree'.
'I'm currently working as part of the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT). My role is to ensure that our works are carried out in compliance with resource consents and that we minimise our impact on the environment. In the long term I hope to continue a career in environmental management.'