Current Students

Maria Chiarella

I’m Maria Chiarella and I live in Victoria, BC. I hold a double major in Political Science and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria and tree-planted during my undergraduate summers in northern B.C. and Alberta. I began my career working with Indigenous and low-income communities in Bolivia and Peru, supporting research, policies, and environmental initiatives that would improve sustainable economic development and address youth unemployment. Afterward, I consulted with the United Nations in Vietnam, where I worked on a mangrove rehabilitation project. Since 2019 I’ve worked with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Project Learning Tree Canada, where I manage our Mentorship and Youth Program for youth and forest sector professionals. My goal now is to gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles of forestry. I am eager to be part of the MSFM hands-on program and gain technical skills and concepts that will lead me to earn my RPF designation in B.C. My hobbies include hiking, camping, traveling, boxing, reading, and finding the best banana bread.

Victoria Elguea Garcia

I was born in Mexico City, but I grew up in a desert town in the state of Puebla. When my family moved to Canada I was blown away by the beauty of the forests in Ontario. This leads me to do an Undergraduate Degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation at the University of Guelph. There I was given the opportunity to learn more about forestry, conservation, and all that goes into land management. This program taught me that the beauty of our natural forests cannot continue without people to manage and protect them. With this knowledge in hand, I decided to apply to the MSFM program so that I can gain the knowledge and skills necessary to help protect our forests.

Chanelle Gauthier

I grew up in Severn, Ontario, exploring and learning from the vibrant forests and waterways surrounding my home. For the last ten years, I have been working as a tree planter, participating in various reforestation and restoration projects across the country, from Quebec to Vancouver Island. I have spent my off-seasons traveling, volunteering, and completing my undergraduate degree in Forest Sciences at UBC. I have also spent winters working on fire mitigation projects in Mackenzie, BC, and Tatla Lake, BC. I am excited to be part of the MSFM program to reinforce the connection between my scientific education and practical experience. I am particularly interested in community forestry and exploring ways to strengthen relationships and reciprocity between forests and rural communities.

Pikling Lo

Hello! I am Helen and I am from Hong Kong. Majoring in Ecology and Biodiversity during my undergraduate years at the University of Hong Kong sparked my passion for nature and forests. The years of experience working in the field of environmental education after graduation further strengthened my belief that working in as well as working for forests is my lifelong career path. At work, I organize various nature connectedness activities that are forest- or tree-based to promote nature appreciation among the public, such as eco-tours, forest bathing, woodworking and an art x ecology exhibition. Over the past years, I also developed field skills such as plant identification and tree measurements, and acquired the ISA Certified Arborist qualification. Prompted by interest, I started learning tree climbing two years ago and I am now also a freelance tree worker. To me, forests are multifaceted. I find myself constantly drawn to learn more about the different aspects of forests and to be connected with forests. Going forward, I am committed to pursuing my next goal – becoming a professional forester and making a direct contribution to sustainable forest management.

Katelyn Metanczuk

Hello everyone, my name is Kate! I was fortunate to grow up on a farm near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, spending all my free time in the outdoors. This style of upbringing led me to pursue an education in which I could learn in the outdoors, while also helping others to experience it and foster a sense of responsibility for its well-being. This led me to Mount Royal University in Calgary, where I studied ecotourism and outdoor leadership. Some career highlights have included working as an ecotourism guide in Whistler, BC, as a research assistant for the Alpine Club of Canada, and most recently working as an environmental educator with the City of Calgary. These roles have allowed me to learn from industry professionals while guiding individuals to appreciate and protect our environment. Outside of my academic pursuits, I enjoy backpacking in Canada’s amazing landscapes, creating music, traveling, and spending time with my pup Sandy. Driven by a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the future of forestry, I am thrilled to be a part of the upcoming MSFM cohort. I feel fortunate to learn from UBC’s esteemed faculty and look forward to collaborating with my peers. Professionally, I aspire to become a Registered Professional Forester and envision working on international endeavors, particularly in South America or beyond, to promote sustainable practices and protect our planet’s invaluable resources.

Wyatt Peterson

My background is in arboriculture and forest conservation, and I have previous experience in forest management work such as removing invasive, and non-native plant species, writing management plans, and collecting tree stand data through field surveys. I’m looking forward to gaining greater perspectives in sustainable forestry at UBC so I can be better equipped to pursue a land management career as a forester. I am from Montpelier, Vermont, and have spent much of my free time in the forests of the northeast U.S. and Ontario. Canoe tripping, hiking, skiing, and observing birds comprise much of my time outside of work. My ultimate career goal is to work in land conservation to maintain the health of all natural communities.

Alistair San

Hi, my name is Alistair, and I am from Perth, Scotland. I graduated from the University of Glasgow with a BSc in Geography in 2021. After completing my degree, I worked for a property consultancy company in the UK as part of their forestry team. This gave me a fantastic introduction to forest management and really sparked my passion for woodlands and the forested landscape. I decided to apply for the MSFM as it is a professional degree and will allow me to continue my forestry education whilst also experiencing the operations, practices, and legislation of Canadian forestry. In my spare time, I love to be outdoors hiking, trail running, and mountain biking as well as competing in triathlons.

Catherine Savard

Hello, my name is Catherine. I live in Montreal but grew up in Toronto and spent two years in Europe. I did my undergraduate degree at Queen’s University in Kingston, majoring in environmental science with a specialization in geography. I’ve been a research assistant for the last two summers. In 2022, I was in Halifax at Dalhousie University in the Microbial Microecology lab, and in 2023 I worked with the Queen’s Atmospheric and Environmental Research in Baie Comeau, Quebec. I decided to pursue the MSFM as a step toward becoming an RPF and working in Quebec or British Columbia after graduation. I love learning about different natural environments and am passionate about sustainability. In my spare time, I like doing outdoor activities and sports and spending time with animals.

DJ Sene

I am the current Forestry Program Manager and Territorial Forester here in American Samoa. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. I am also a bartender at one of the local pubs here on the island. I enjoy hiking, bartending, traveling, and going to the gym. I decided to pursue my Masters at the University of British Columbia due to its prestigious forestry programs, school diversity, and the simple fact that Canada has one of the best intact forests in the world. I hope to be employed by the United States Forest Service one day.

Alan Verona

After growing up in the flatlands of the US and receiving an engineering degree from the University of Edinburgh, I shelved said degree and ran chainsaw for the Conversation Corps. A year of living out of an old Subaru while removing invasive species from desert watersheds prepared me for wildland fire. For the following eight years, I worked for the US Forest Service in the Rockies as a member, and eventually a squad boss, of two Wildland Fire Modules. Modules are hand crews that suppress fire when appropriate but, more importantly, implement controlled burns. They also record fire effects data and protect structures when lightning starts are allowed to burn, thus fulfilling fire’s ecological role. While I reminisce on summers spent living out of crew trucks, I look forward to working with a new team: our MSFM cohort. Many share the common goal of becoming Registered Professional Foresters. Specifically, I would like to write and help implement prescribed fire burn plans. I am especially interested in cultural burns and working with First Nations to reestablish historic fire return intervals. When not at the library, join me running, at the rock gym, or on an endurance mission in the hills.

Zac Wagman

I’m Zac and I’m from Ottawa, Ontario. I completed my BSc in Biology at the University of Ottawa in 2015. I have previous work experience in resource management with Parks Canada, honeybee research with Agriculture Canada, and have most recently been supporting youth employment opportunities and increasing forest literacy with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada). In 2019, I cycled across the country on a wooden bike to promote employment opportunities in Canada’s forest sector through PLT Canada’s Green Ride for Green Jobs. I love spending time in forests and enjoying the outdoors. I am thrilled to be a part of this year’s MSFM cohort and to bring my new understanding of SFM back to SFI!

Amy Wheeler

I was born and raised in southern Ontario and completed my undergraduate with a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography at Laurentian University, and attended the British Columbia Institute of Technology to complete a certification in Geographic Information Systems. While in university I started tree planting in Northern Ontario, and later in Quebec, which grew my interest in forestry. After my undergraduate studies, I traveled in South America and throughout Canada and lived in British Columbia for a few years. Here, I began working as a Forestry Student in the silviculture department at a logging company. This work experience increased my interest in a forestry career, which led me to the MSFM program. Through the MSFM program, I hope to become an RPF with a career focused on silviculture and/or surveying, allowing me to combine my love for the outdoors with a career. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, camping, snowboarding, and reading.

Anton Z’Graggen

Hi my name is Anton, I’m from Montreal where I grew up and studied sustainability at McGill. I’ve spent the past year or so tree planting in northern Alberta, traveling around BC, and ski bumming at Sun Peaks. I like snowboarding, hiking, camping, biking, playing guitar, making music and just being outdoors :) After tree planting, it opened my eyes to how forestry is done in Canada, and got me thinking about what aspects can be improved and how to make it work within the context of a natural ecosystem. I was lucky enough to be doing some hands-on ecological forest management last fall while WWOOFing, and diving deeper into this work inspired me to apply to this program. My goal is to try and balance the need for forestry products with the need to preserve forests for ecological purposes and for climate change mitigation. As well, I want to help protect old growth forests and create conditions for which these forests can regenerate and be appreciated by future generations.

Xiwen Zhang

I originate from Tianjin, China, a city that has undergone remarkable environmental changes over the years. Having graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Forestry and a minor in Landscape and Recreation Planning from UBC, I am deeply committed to understanding and enhancing the natural world around us. During my undergraduate journey, I gained practical experience through diverse co-op positions. As a Landscape Design Assistant, I contributed to conceptualizing urban forestry-based designs for an industrial park in Tianjin, China, fostering my interest in sustainable urban planning. Subsequently, as an Invasive Plants Management Technician, I engaged in hands-on data collection and management, combining physical and chemical methods to combat invasive species across British Columbia. As an Environmental Management Technician, I was responsible for assessing Tianjin’s public green spaces and developing a deep understanding of sustainable resource management. I was motivated to pursue advanced studies after seeing how windbreaks may drastically improve the quality of the air where I grew up. My goal is to support forest management techniques that promote a healthier living environment and move us closer to a sustainable and greener future.