Alumnus Who Worked All Over the World Wants Students to Do the Same

In his lengthy career Dr Patrick Duffy (BSF 1955) has worked in over 40 countries. From 1967, when he worked as a land classification specialist in Australia, to 2012, when he advised on the environmental impact assessment of fish farms in Cambodia, Patrick has worked on a wide range of international projects for governments, industry and non-governmental organizations.

More than most, Patrick understands the value of international work experience. And so, he established the Patrick Duffy International Work Experience Grant to provide financial support to Forestry students doing co-op work terms outside Canada.

“Forestry is a global discipline these days, and international organizations are looking for highly skilled students,” he says. “The challenge is that many excellent non-governmental organizations can’t offer wages, or can only cover living expenses but not the cost of travel. I don’t want students to miss out on these incredible opportunities for financial reasons alone.”

Alana Gonczar is a fourth-year student in Forest Sciences. As a Patrick Duffy Grant recipient, she spent a co-op work term at an 800-hectare nature reserve in central Ecuador. Alana wanted to learn more about tropical species and ecology, and how nature reserves operate.

Alana reports, “One of my favourite activities was making coffee and chocolate, working through the process from raw bean to the final product – and then getting to eat it,” she says. “I also learned a lot from constructing a seedling nursery and assisting with research on mushroom biodiversity.

“This co-op term allowed me to improve my communication skills, gain a new perspective on the many ways to reuse materials, and develop personal and professional connections in South America,” she says. “I would like to thank Patrick greatly for helping me go on this work term and have this amazing experience.”

Patrick received a Masters in Forestry from Yale University and a PhD in forest land productivity from the University of Minnesota. He chaired the 1972 Federal Task Force on the Canadian Environmental Impact Assessment Policy and Procedure. In 2004 he was the co-founder and coordinator of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries section of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA).  For these he received the 2013 IAIA Outstanding Service Award.

With a passion for sharing his knowledge and experience with Forestry students, Patrick has been a mentor in the UBC Tri-Mentoring Program for 20 years. “I have mentored about 40 students so far, and as many at IAIA conferences. It’s a wonderful process,” he says. “I’m currently mentoring two very capable Forestry undergraduate students – one senior, one junior.”

Patrick encourages other alumni to support this International Work Experience Grant. “I consider this grant to be a pilot project so far; I have seeded it to get it off the ground,” he says. “But there are more students who deserve to have international work experiences than the Grant can support right now. Additional donations would make a huge difference to these students.”

For more information on how you can support Forestry students, please contact Emma Tully,

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