The IFSA Experience: Canadian-American Regional Meeting 2023

Last spring, Oregon State University had the pleasure of hosting the Canadian-American Regional Meeting (CARM) with International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) North America. This event took place all over Oregon and encompassed visits to several important regional forests such as the McDonald and Dunn Research Forests, H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Crater Lake National Park, and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. This incredible event was able to bring together IFSA students from all over the Northern American Region to discuss and brainstorm various possibilities and solutions for managing forest cover in the face of climate change and address current natural resource challenges such as forest fragmentation, habitat loss, and deforestation.

H.J. Andrews

Attendees experienced a variety of indoor and outdoor activities including workshops and lessons from committed and experienced researchers in the field of natural resources. Some highlights include an in-depth seminar by Dr. Gail Woodside, who addressed how OSU has begun acknowledging and promoting Indigenous Knowledge amid the modernization-related challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples today. Also addressing the sharing of knowledge was the “Mental Health and Climate Change Workshop” and the “Hope for the Future” panel discussion, which engaged students in activities that encouraged learning from others and teaching their perspectives on creating inclusivity in the field of natural resources.

Outside of the classroom experience, students had the opportunity to adventure in the great outdoors to learn through some hands-on and fun filled activities. Snowshoeing in Crater Lake National Park lent valuable lessons on winter ecology. A session of logging sports with the OSU Logging Sports Team facilitated team building and active engagement. And a tree climbing workshop allowed students to appreciate the beauty and FUNctionality of OSU campus’ variety of tree species.

A visit to the Willow Creek Preserve on day two showed an important lesson on the historic and long-standing effects of fire suppression on natural ecosystems. In the most recent decades, this practice has facilitated the alteration of more vulnerable forest types to drought while also increasing the risk of fire by accumulating fuel loads, creating an accelerated rate at which fire can spread. Managed by The Nature Conservancy, the Willow Creek Preserve has benefited greatly from the utilization of fire as a tool, such as with prescribed and controlled burning. This practice has fostered heterogeneity in forests and reduced active fuels, maintaining a healthy ecosystem that resembles that of natural and undisturbed systems.

Participants were able to share their own knowledge and experiences through the Forests Across the Continent Event, where individuals from each university presented on forests and natural resource-related topics in their region. Topics included geographical uniqueness, policies surrounding forest management and silviculture, and important forest products that impact their region. Such interactions fostered an opportunity for the growth of knowledge about each other’s livelihoods, priorities, interests, cultures, and regional supply and demand needs. Although these events were densely packed with learning and leadership opportunities and events, attendees were able to incorporate their personal experiences and hopes for the future in a way that brought everybody together and created an amazing bonding experience. As one student put it, “CARM was amazing! I was able to meet new friends and see beautiful places I have never seen before. It was such a great learning experience and I feel so lucky to have gotten to go!”.

The IFSA family will continue to grow with the soon to be new opening of IFSA LC (Local Committee) at Northern Arizona University. Oregon State University is very proud to have had the opportunity to host such a life-changing event and would encourage all Forestry students to consider joining the wonderful committee of individuals who strive to change the world of natural resources for the better.

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