OSU College of Forestry researcher is investigating whether log jams create lasting salmon habitat in the coast range

Graduate student Madelyn Maffia collects data along a coast range stream

When winter and the rainier months hit Oregon, the rivers and streams around the state can really start flowing – and waterways can turn into a tough environment for small fish like juvenile coho salmon.

These fish need a safe place to live for the winter months, where they won’t get swept away by rapid flows – and Catalina Segura, an associate professor in forest engineering, resources, and management and the Fisher Family Faculty Fellow, is investigating the effectiveness of large wood restoration projects to create good habitat for these fish – and if they can offer a lasting solution for coho salmon.

Segura started this project back in 2014, just few weeks after she joined the College of Forestry. At the time, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) was working to restore salmon habitat in the Oregon coast range. To do this, they installed approximately 35 large log jams on tributaries of the Siletz River to create winter habitat for coho salmon. The log jams help slow down the flow and create calmer pools of water for the salmon to live in during the wetter months.

Segura launched a research project to investigate how this effort was changing the conditions of the streams – and whether it was actually helping create good habitat for coho salmon. Along with graduate student Russell Bair, she analyzed the conditions of the streams before and after the log jams were installed and quantified the created of new habitat for small salmon during high winter flows.

To conduct this kind of field work involves collecting a lot of data, she says. Segura’s team has collected thousands of survey points about the topography of the streambeds, the size and placement of large wood, the velocity of the water, and the existence of salmon habitat. The various iterations of this project have been a great training ground for students, she says, as she’s been able to involve and mentor many graduate and undergraduate students in this field work over the years.

Through the first round of field work and data analysis, Segura discovered that the restoration work had, in fact, increased salmon habitat – by about 30 percent.

“This finding was important and offers applicable takeaways to stream restoration efforts throughout the Pacific Northwest,” she said.

But, her work was not done. After reaching that finding, she started to ask a new set of research questions about the sustainability of the restoration efforts – and how lasting the habitats might be.

“I wanted to know what would happen to this effort over time,” she said. “How sustainable would this change be? How long would this change last?”

Madelyn Maffia

Her current iteration of the project is probing that line of questions. Along with graduate student Madelyn Maffia, she’s measuring the current state of the streams for salmon habitat. She wants to find out if that 30 percent number has gone up or down over the last few years – which could hold important implications for future restoration efforts.

“It’s important to know this information when thinking about how to restore rivers because ultimately there aren’t enough resources to restore every mile of river,” she explained. “This will help decision-makers understand the most effective places to invest resources to restore waterways and create salmon habitat.”

Creating safe habitat for the coho salmon is important because coho salmon have been on and off of the endangered species list for years – and coho salmon hold great economic, cultural, and environmental significance. Salmon has been a vital food for Tribes in Oregon for thousands of years and is still a meaningful cultural symbol for tribes, including the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, whose Tribal land overlaps with part of Segura’s research site. Some of Segura’s work was supported by the Spirit Mountain Community Fund, which is organized by the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

The project is ongoing and keeps growing. She’s currently partnering with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to assess how her findings about the restoration projects and hydraulic changes line-up with ODFW’s research into the health of coho salmon. “We want to see how our assessment of geomorphic changes compares to their biological metrics for salmon,” she said. “Collaborating on this assessment will allow us to uncover a richer story about how successful this kind of restoration efforts are.”

A College of Forestry team is on a mission to grow the maple industry in the PNW

The sugar maple has a reputation as a powerhouse for maple syrup production – but it’s not the only maple game around. An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by the College of Forestry is at the forefront of a movement to tap into Oregon’s bigleaf maple – and put the Pacific Northwest on the maple syrup map.

One of the main differences between maple trees is the concentration of sugar in the sap. Sap is a key part of making maple syrup, as it’s harvested from maple trees and then boiled into syrup. Acer saccharum, commonly known as the sugar maple, is loaded with sugar, as its name suggests, which is why it’s become such a go-to tree for maple syrup production.

Acer macophyllum, aka the bigleaf maple, has less sugar in its sap – usually about one-third to one-half as much as the sugar maple. But, modern technology is helping to render this a nonissue as material like food-grade vacuum tubing and equipment like reverse osmosis machines can cost effectively turn less sugary sap into syrup. The vacuum tubing system is able to extract a high volume of sap to work with and reverse osmosis removes 75 percent of the water from the sap, leaving concentrated sucrose and healthy nutrients behind.

“This technology is a gamechanger for the bigleaf maple,” says Eric Jones, the lead principal investigator for the project, and instructor and assistant professor of practice in the department of forest ecosystems and society.

“This is a great economic opportunity for Oregonians to expand the industry and take advantage of the fact that bigleaf maples are really abundant in Oregon,” he says. “The Pacific Northwest bigleaf maple can produce a delicious, unique, and complex maple syrup, along with other products like nutritional maple water, wonderful edible flowers, and beautiful lumber and firewood.”

Jones assembled a research team that spans the university and includes scholars and students from anthropology, geography, environmental arts and humanities, economics, ethnobiology and engineering. The College of Forestry is represented by graduate students Melanie Douville and John Scheb, professor emeritus Barb Lachenbruch, Ron Reuter, associate professor and program director of natural resources, Badege Bishaw, an agroforester and College of Forestry courtesy faculty, and Tiffany Fegel, a coordinator with OSU’s forestry and natural resources extension.

The team was awarded a million dollars in funding through a pair of multiyear awards from the federal government to help build a sustainable maple industry in Oregon. The project is focused on promoting bigleaf maple tapping and providing training, tools and education to landowners interested in exploring commercial opportunities.

The team also works to mitigate the risks involved with managing and sugaring bigleaf maples. Examples of project work includes incorporating food safety standards into commercial production, investigating how wildlife, certain diseases, and different climatic conditions affect bigleaf maple stands, the relation between soil and flavor, and creating business case studies that landowners can learn from.

“I think there’s an infectious nature of tapping bigleaf maples and we’re trying to help landowners find the easiest and most economically and ecologically prudent path to get into tapping maple,” says Jones.

With climate change ushering in greater uncertainty about the future of Pacific Northwest forests, the bigleaf team is interested in how the trees will fare under changing conditions.

“The bigleaf maple is a tenacious tree, as any forester will attest to, and perhaps it has a role to play in helping mitigate climate change,” says Jones.

While hotter and drier weather in some areas will negatively impact bigleaf maple populations, the trees may prove particularly resilient in certain microclimates. Jones is currently serving as an advisor on a pilot project in Washington, where the group is planting bigleaf maple trees on old dairy land as part of a carbon offset pilot program.

Jones has always been interested in wild foods and plants in Oregon and sees them as an avenue to promote stewardship activity and grow recreational and economic opportunities across the region. He hopes that a growing maple industry will invite people to develop a deeper appreciation for the land and find new ways to engage with the environment through the bigleaf maple.

A major goal of the project is to grow a culture around maple in the Pacific Northwest, much like exists in the Northeast, where the sugar maple thrives. In the spring of 2023, the bigleaf team will hold the first Oregon bigleaf maple festival and conference. Email Jones at eric.t.jones@oregonstate.edu for more information and check out the project’s public website Oregon Tree Tappers for updates and additional information about tapping bigleaf maple.

The OSU College of Forestry Research Forests Offers Many Opportunities to the OSU and Corvallis Communities

With over 155,000 visits a year, the McDonald and Dunn Research Forests are well known for the many recreational opportunities in the forests – from dog walking to trail running to horseback riding, thousands of people frequent the McDonald and Dunn Forests to enjoy the outdoors.

But, the McDonald and Dunn Forests are much more than a network of popular trails and forest roads. They join eight other forests across Oregon that collectively make up OSU’s College of Forestry’s Research Forests – which are all utilized for many different functions in addition to recreation, including public outreach, education and research.

“The OSU Research Forests offer many valuable outdoor learning opportunities,” said Holly Ober, associate dean for science outreach and professor in the department of forest ecosystems and society.

“Students can visit the woods on field trips to see and experience examples of topics covered in textbooks and lectures. Researchers can implement experiments that help increase understanding of issues of contemporary concern. Outreach specialists can host workshops that showcase demonstrations for woodland owners and professional forest managers. Visitors of all ages can take self-guided tours. And local community members benefit from opportunities to recreate and relax in nature.”

As their names suggest, one of the primary functions of the Research Forests is to serve as an outdoor laboratory for researchers. The forests have hosted projects that span many disciplines and much of the research considers how to actively and sustainably manage forests while addressing economic, social, and environmental factors. The hope is for the Research Forests to help advance the field of forestry through scientific inquiry.  

“We don’t want the forests to be focused on any single issue,” said Stephen Fitzgerald, director of College of Forestry research forests and professor of forest engineering and resources and management. “We want to explore the many different elements of sustainable forest management, including how managing forests affect carbon, wildlife, timber production, and water yield.”

Various research projects across the 15,000 acres of Research Forests have examined wildlife and wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, forest resiliency amidst climate change, invasive species, recreation, biodiversity conservation, timber production, economic prosperity, ecosystem processes, and forest sustainability. Researchers have utilized the forests for this work for nearly a century.

A current research project, led by Cat Carlisle who is pursuing a graduate degree in the department of forest, engineering and resource management, is looking at the potential for Oregon’s forests to contribute to carbon storage and sequestration. Carlisle is analyzing the inventory of carbon stock in the McDonald and Dunn Forests – and projecting how different forestry management strategies might shift carbon levels in the forests over the next 150 years. This project will provide decision-makers with valuable information about how to optimize forest management to help mitigate climate change. 

“A lot of the focus in forestry right now is on identifying which forest management strategies will enhance forest carbon,” Carlisle explained. “The hope is to find ways to use forest management to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and sequester it in biomass, to contribute to climate change mitigation. I hope this project sheds light on how to manage a sustainable working forest in a way that considers ecological factors like carbon stock, especially as the climate changes.”

Because Carlisle is conducting this work in the Research Forests, she was able to immediately jump in and access a wealth of data that’s been collected over the years.

The Research Forests also serve as an outdoor classroom for students at Oregon State University – for classes offered through the College of Forestry and through other departments across Oregon State. Students are able to get a hands-on education and develop skills in subjects like silviculture, soils, wildlife, recreation management, prescribed fire, and ecology through the forests.

“We are fortunate to have these Research Forests located right here in Corvallis,” said Ober. “The close proximity to campus makes it possible for students to take field trips to the woods during scheduled lab periods, and allows both students and faculty to conduct outdoor research without extensive travel expenses.”

The forests also host a robust public outreach program and recreational opportunities. The McDonald and Dunn Forests contain 30 miles of trails and 110 miles of roads that are open for non-motorized use and enjoyment so the local community can explore the outdoors and enjoy nature. The many activities available in the forests include hiking, dog walking, horseback riding, hunting (only allowed on Dunn Forest), trail running, picnicking, bird watching, and mountain biking.  This all happens alongside educational programs that allow people to learn more about the Research Forests through self-guided tours, the Forest Discovery Trail, interpretive signs, and community events like Get Outdoors Day and seasonal guided forest walks.  

A record-breaking 196 students attended the November 9, 2022 College of Forestry Career Fair held for the first time in the Peavy Forest Science Center. 

The fair hosted 32 employers who generously provided students with four hours of networking and industry connections. Students were able to meet with employers representing all College of Forestry majors and academic programs and many students signed up for and attended interviews the following day. Among the employers, it was great to see so many College of Forestry alumni back on campus to share what they are doing post-graduation with current students. 

A big thank you to the variety of employers who attended and spent part of their day with us, including Boise Cascade, AKS Engineering & Forestry LLC, Hampton Lumber, Roseburg Forest Products, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Miller Timber Services, Bartlett Tree Experts, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Parks & Recreation Department, Starker Forests, Lone Rock Resources, Cascade Timber Consulting, Sierra Pacific Industries, Rayonier, Pacific Forest Management, Weyerhaeuser, and Northwest Management, Inc.

Another big thank you to Roseburg Forest Products for hosting a pre-career fair speed resume review session for students who wanted feedback and suggestions for improvement from an industry lens.

Members of student clubs at the College of Forestry were also on hand to support the fair, including the Forest Stewards Guild, Society of American Foresters, and the Forestry Club.

Interested in learning more about the career fair or connecting with the employers listed here? Please contact Britt Hoskins or Brooke Harrington. Alumni are always welcome to come to the College of Forestry Career Fair – whether you are representing a registered employer or if you want to attend and network for your own career. 

Destiny Pauls is a natural resources student focusing on conservation law enforcement who will be graduating in Spring 2023. She spent her summer in central Oregon as a wilderness ranger for the Deschutes National Forest, in partnership with AmeriCorps and Heart of Oregon Corps.

What was the focus of your summer job?
My position focused on stewarding in our wilderness areas within the forest, educating recreationists about the new Central Cascades Wilderness Permit system, checking for those permits, and instilling a few essential Leave No Trace principles for their journey. I was able to work in the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, Mt. Washington Wilderness, and the Diamond Peak Wilderness.

Describe the day-to-day of your job
I often spent my days geared up in uniform hiking our trails and interacting with the public. Early in the season with the late snow, our crew assisted the Trails crew with a bit of trail maintenance and helped crosscut and lop out a lot of downed trees and vegetation, then focused primarily on getting daily counts of permitted recreationists in the wilderness, counting cars at trailheads, hiking in the backcountry, cleaning up campsites of litter, and trying to disperse the impact from humans. It was such a dream to work for an agency I respect, admire, and aimed at working in an area that holds such a special place in my heart (and ankle – I have the Three Sisters tattooed there!). I am from southern Idaho and have lived in the Willamette Valley for the past 10 years and have driven that highway, recreated in that forest, and climbed those peaks during that time, so to see it come full circle- dream to reality was pretty amazing and couldn’t have asked for a better place and way to do what I love.

How will this job help you in your future career?
My focus in the natural resources program is conservation law enforcement, with the goal of being what I like to call a “tree cop” or wildland law enforcement officer in a future career. This summer job provided many opportunities to shadow other forest service programs, in which I was fortunate to experience several ride alongs with our forest service law-enforcement officers. This gave me a real face to face glimpse of what that position entailed and that was one of the primarily goals of what I was looking to get out of this experience. Lastly I want to share how hard it was for me to leave this position as I wished it could have continued past a seasonal position (future permanent job here I come!) but I will fondly look back at the people I worked alongside, the places I explored, and the connections I made within the industry, my university, and in some of the most beautiful wild places Central Oregon has to offer.

OSU Research Forests student worker Devon Swank recently met with forest ecosystems and society Ph.D. student Rachel Zitomer to learn about some of her research on bumble bee nutritional ecology in the McDonald and Dunn Forests. Rachel is a Ph.D. student within Dr. Jim Rivers’ Forest Animal Ecology lab.

Rachel’s doctoral research examines native bee health in early successional conifer forests. Specifically, Rachel explores how characteristics of timber forest landscapes impact bumble bee health and reproduction across time. “Essentially, this research aims to provide forest managers with information about what flower species are most important for bees and what time of year the flowers are being used”, says Rachel. This information is beneficial when planning for vegetation control and restoration plantings, and can make forest management decisions more bumble bee friendly.

Why do we need pollinators?

Pollinators like bumble bees are responsible for fertilizing most of the world’s flowering plants and play a crucial role in our ecosystems. Pollinators influence our food and agricultural industry, too: wild insect pollinators are estimated to contribute about three billion dollars to the U.S. agriculture industry through pollination every year.

Unfortunately some species of bumble bee, such as the western bumble bee (Bombus occidentalis), once a common species of bumble bee in Oregon, have experienced rapid population decline over the last few decades. These declines can be attributed to a variety of factors, including climate change, pathogens, and impacts from human uses. These varied factors may contribute to bumble bee nutritional stress and decline.

Bumble bee nutritional needs

When bumble bees forage, they collect pollen and nectar by traveling from flower to flower. Nectar provides carbohydrates which fuels movement in adults and provides essential energy. Pollen provides lipids and proteins which are vital to reproduction and the development of young bees.

Male Bombus flavifrons nectaring on bull thistle (photo by R. Zitomer)

Pollinators in conifer forests

Generally, bees prefer open habitats with warm ambient temperatures, nesting sites and flowering plants. Given these habitat requirements, research on bees in conifer forests is lacking. This gap in research may be attributed to the fact that conifer forests are typically assumed to be shaded environments with cooler temperatures and few flowering plants. This assumption is certainly accurate for closed-canopy forests. However, there is growing evidence suggesting that bees can be quite abundant in early seral conifer forests.

Early seral forests contain key characteristics that are beneficial for bees, including low canopy cover, warmer understory temperatures, and higher flower counts. Additionally, early seral forests may provide abundant nesting opportunities, but further research is needed in this area.

Ultimately, understanding seasonal changes in bee foraging preferences and nutritional intake in actively managed early seral settings will help land managers better identify what species are most beneficial to bumble bees after a harvest and across planting seasons.

Field sites and data collection

Rachel identified twenty early seral stands in the McDonald and Dunn Forests. These were sites that had been harvested within the last 10 years. At these locations, she measured three aspects of bumble bee foraging across the foraging season (May through August) in 2020 and 2021: 1) The floral preferences of foraging bumble bees; 2) The number of flower species visited by individual bumble bees and by all bumble bees collectively; and 3) The macronutrient ratios (e.g., protein to lipid concentration) of bumble bee-collected pollen.

“We are interested in examining bumble bee nutritional ecology across time because the diversity and density of floral resources changes substantially throughout the foraging season. These seasonal shifts could affect bumble bee foraging behavior and nutrient intake” says Rachel.

Map of pollinator research field sites in the McDonald and Dunn Forests. Map provided by R. Zitomer.

What’s next?

Rachel is now analyzing the results and we are eager to write a follow up article with some of the findings! This work is of high importance to the OSU Research Forests and to other forestland managers across the state hoping to conserve and promote habitat and resources for our native bees.

This article originally appeared in the OSU Research Forests newsletter. Thanks to the OSU Research Forests and Devon Swank, OSU Research Forest student communications and outreach assistant, for allowing us to reprint this article. Devon is a senior in the College of Forestry studying natural resource management. Get updates from the OSU Research Forests.

Forest engineering undergrad Casey Warburton (class of 2023) did field research throughout Oregon and California during the summer of 2022.

Where and who did you work for?
I worked in many research forests all over Oregon and California including the HJ Andrews Experimental forest, Hinkle creek and even down in the redwoods. As for who I worked for, I assisted many grad students under Catalina Segura and Kevin Bladon while also doing tasks that they had specifically for me.

Was there a favorite project?
Yes, two that I particularly enjoyed were doing synoptic sampling of the HJ Andrews watersheds where we hiked up the 2 main streams collecting water samples and also hiking up most every tributary that flowed into the 2 main streams. The second project was looking at how water flows through the soil after large storm events. To get this project setup we dug 3 soil pits along a hillslope near streams in 3 different locations to install sensors that detect water in the soil.

What is one memory that sticks out?
One memory that sticks out to me was when my partner and I were taking samples out of one of the main creeks in the Andrews forest and looking around at the water, the trees all the rocks and downed logs and thinking how we were probably the 3rd or 4th people to ever see the stream right where we were. It was like we were pioneers or early explorers seeing new land that had never been touched before.

What did you enjoy most about this job?
What I enjoyed most about the job was the variety of work I was able to do and how many different projects I got to help with. Seeing all the different research that was going on just in our lab was eye opening to all the different parts and pieces of a watershed and how they interact.

Zach Menegat (class of 2023) studies outdoor recreation management and GIS, and he spent the summer working as a fly fishing guide for his second season in West Yellowstone, Montana for Madison River Outfitters.

What was the focus of your job?
My summer is focused on teaching people from all different backgrounds to fly fish on the Upper Madison River in the state of Montana as well as going into Yellowstone National Park for my clients choice of river to fish.

Describe the day-to-day of your job.
My days consisted of getting to the shop at around 8am and meeting my clients for the day. After that we would shuttle down to the water, I would give my little lecture on an introduction of what they needed to do for the day, and have a great day of fly fishing netting big brown and rainbow trout!

What is one memory that sticks out?
One memory from this summer I had was having the opportunity to take professor Dave Stemper out of the water and he absolutely killed it!

How will this job help you in your classes or future career?
Other than showing people my knowledge that I’ve gained over the years, this job has taught me so much in regards to resource management and fisheries sciences. Most importantly it has taught me the necessity of communication in any field. 

What was the hardest part of this job?
The hardest part of my job is consistency. In the guiding industry, when you are booked for a trip by your boss or shop staff, there is not much you can do to get a day off. As a part time guide I would still have 2 days off a week, but for next year as a full time guide I will likely be 13-16 days on, 1 day off. 

What did you enjoy most about this job?
The best part of this job was calling the river my office. As someone who grew up in the river fly fishing, this is a dream job and I could not have asked for anything better as a start to a career.

Where and who did you work for?
This summer, I spent time in Salem, Oregon’s enchanting Minto-Brown Park. Freshwater wetlands, thimbleberry patches, alder groves, and waterfowl ponds dominate this urban-proximate park. Marshland Minto-Brown resides in southwestern Salem, and it abuts the mighty Willamette River. I worked, researched, and learned under the tutelage of Ashley D’Antonio (OSU College of Forestry associate professor) and Gareth Hopkins (Western Oregon University assistant professor) throughout my experience. Gleaning insight from their years of experience in the field and academic settings, I researched recreationists’ impact on freshwater turtle species. To accomplish this task, I deployed observational methods, carefully monitoring human and wildlife interactions throughout a series of field sites, selectively chosen by the principal investigators, Ashley and Gareth.

Was there a particular project or focus?
I focused on classifying the types of recreationists and turtle species within five field sites, marking data sheets with information pertinent to the study design. A major goal of this study comprised whether recreationists (kayakers, bikers, trail-runners) have a substantial impact on (a) turtle species, (b) non-native vs native species composition, and (c) the general acceptability of habitat conditions. This co-facilitated project also involves the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife (ODFW), due to their investment in healthy and suitable human-wildlife relationships throughout the state. The management recommendations from this field season will assist in current and future planning initiatives regarding freshwater turtle habitat and species health.

One facet of this field research that I took a special liking to included the usage of a portable decibel meter. I used this device to quantify the level of physical noise that pulsated through our field sites. Acoustics play a vital role in wildlife behavior, hence allowing many species to communicate and develop, but they also act as barriers for species such as turtles that might need quieter environments to concentrate on selecting suitable habitats.

What is one memory that sticks out?
About three weeks into the summer season, I came across a convocation of golden eagles soaring through a narrow channel of water. I came upon this rare sight just minutes after arriving at the third field site. While unrelated to the focus of this study, the golden eagle’s presence demonstrated the splendor of avian life that Minto-Brown offers. After this occurrence kicked off the season, I went on to observe osprey, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, and other birds of prey, of course in addition to turtles roving the surface waters of the park.

How will this job help you in your classes or future career?
I think about this question frequently, and I would eagerly say this experience taught me about field-based occupations. I also gleaned insight into the mental and physical endurance required to work/research as a field recreation and ecological scientist. This specific line of work requires adaptability, resilience, and patience, not to mention a knack for weather fluctuations! Going into this experience, I saw myself (down the road) working in a field ecology position, somehow connected to academia, and this summer certainly solidified my passion.

What happens now with this research?
Since the field season came to a close, the research team will embark on the subsequent data analysis stages, producing a series of metrics and values from the observational measurements. This stage will tie together loose ends from the sampling season, ultimately yielding baselines for management planning. After analyzing the data, we plan to write an academic paper, outlining human-wildlife conflicts throughout urban parks with threatened freshwater turtle populations. A management plan and paper will only conclude one part of this long-term partnership among the Oregon Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Western Oregon University, and OSU’s College of Forestry, as the years and researchers ahead of us will continue to examine the critical linkages among human disturbances, turtle species, and community-based conservation science.

Professors Matt Betts and Mark Needham

Mark Needham, professor in the department of forest ecosystems and society, was one of the program leaders in our faculty-led summer trip to Borneo. Oil Palms and Orangutans: Forest Conservation in Malaysian Borneo introduced students to the major conservation challenges facing Borneo while traveling around the Malaysian state of Sabah.

How long were you in Borneo? Was all the time devoted to the program or did you do some other sightseeing while you were there? 
The program lasted two weeks in June 2022.  All of my time was devoted to the program and I did minimal extra sightseeing.  There were 17 undergraduate and graduate students from various programs across campus (e.g., natural resources; fish and wildlife; tourism, recreation, and adventure leadership).  This course focused on intersections among forest management, wildlife conservation, ecotourism, community well-being, and poverty alleviation.  The students observed many animal species (e.g., orangutans, sun bears, pygmy elephants), engaged with local communities and organizations (e.g., palm oil plantation companies, community-based ecotourism enterprises, government agencies, non-governmental organizations), engaged in various experiences (e.g., tree planting, cooking local foods, playing local music), and participated in daily discussions and debates as well as working on their assignments.  Through this immersive and experience-based learning opportunity, the students gained a wide understanding and appreciation for these issues and the local cultures.  It also broadened their perspectives on various topics. 

What is one memory from the program that sticks out? 
Seeing my first orangutans and first sun bears in the wild; the variety and diversity of wildlife species in Borneo are incredible!  I will also never forget how thoughtful, engaged, and kind all of the students were. This was the first multi-week study abroad course that I led and it impacted me more than I ever imagined.  I was energized by the student enthusiasm and passion.  I was encouraged by the student thoughtfulness and appreciation for the complexity of the issues discussed.  And, I was touched by the student compassion and caring for their fellow students and the local community members.

What advice do you have for students interested in this program? 
Just do it!  Step out of your comfort zone and go for it!  Traveling internationally in developing regions and with a class group can be difficult and challenge you in various ways, but the experiences, relationships, and knowledge gained are priceless, and you will never forget it.

I know you love photography, how many pictures did you take in Borneo?  
Yes, I am a professional wildlife photographer.  I took more than 2,000 images of wildlife in Borneo.  I am only now just starting to sort through and process (i.e., digitally develop) some of them, as right after Borneo, I traveled straight to South Africa, then Botswana, then New Zealand, and then Australia, so this summer has been a whirlwind of amazing places and adventures!

Anything else you would like to share? 
At the end of the course, many of the students said things such as “this trip changed my life,”  “it solidified my choice to study natural resources and all of the complexities associated with managing these resources and the people who depend on them,”  and “I now want to study these issues in much more depth, perhaps by continuing on with a graduate degree.”  This feedback is awesome and so gratifying!

Our faculty led programs offer students the opportunity to study special topics for academic credit with College of Forestry faculty. These programs are both led and conceived by our faculty, and may incorporate study with international students and instructors. They are often shorter than the length of a term and may take place during spring break, winter break, or the first or last few weeks of summer term.