A Conversation with MSFM Alum, Karolina Kukulski

With a passion for the outdoors, and a dream to explore the unknown, Master of Sustainable Forest Management (MSFM) student Karolina Kukulski shares her UBC Forestry story with us.

Learn more about what drew her to this program, her work experiences across the province and how the MSFM program is setting her up to reach her personal and professional goals.

Read her story below.

Karolina Kukulski in the field petting a dog

“Oh yeah, I know somebody who does forestry up in Northern Alberta! I could send him your resume if you’d like?” – Co-op Supervisor

And that’s how this all started.

In 2015, I was bluff charged by a black bear, fell through the muskeg, was dropped off by a helicopter in the middle of a beaver swamp and used flagging tape as a temporary splint all – during my first summer at Tolko! The Summer Student Forestry Layout program at Tolko was the best summer of my life. I had packed up my 2006 Volkswagen Jetta TDI and drove all the way from Toronto to be thrown into a pair of bulky Dunlops, and traverse through the black spruce swamps. It wasn’t long until I decided that this was the direction I wanted my life to go in, and I needed to figure out how to make a career out of these experiences.

“Go to school in the province you want to work in” – Co-op Supervisor (MSFM alumni)

That’s what led me to the UBC Master of Sustainable Forest Management (MSFM) program. Rather than having to go back to school for a second major, my education in Environmental Systems Science, and previous work experience held value as a relevant field. Managing our landscapes involves much broader concepts than “just forestry”. Understanding how everything is interconnected emphasizes the importance for programs like MSFM to bring together like-minded individuals from various academic backgrounds.

Below are key takeaways from my journey so far:

  1. My undergraduate degree in Earth Systems Science, and co-op work experiences in forestry, put me in the direction of the MSFM program at UBC.
  2. MSFM helped me start the Applied Science Forester In Training (ASFIT) process.
  3. UBC Forestry Co-op Get Hired presentations helped me to get a job after graduation at Interfor Adams Lake as an Assistant Planning Forester
  4. My undergraduate degree in Earth Systems Science, in combination with my Registered Professional Forester (RPF) and MSFM, helped me enter the Environmental Industry
  5. I have achieved my Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control (CPESC) designation and started as an Articling Technical Agrologist (ATAg).

Since graduating from MSFM in 2018, I have achieved my RPF, CPESC and ATAg designations, and I am now a sponsor myself. I have experience in planning forestry, timber cruising, layout, and eco-typing in BC from as far south as Castlegar, to as far north as Pink Mountain, and everywhere in between. Although my most recent and current position is not what most might consider “traditional forestry”, nothing is irrelevant when it comes to the environment and MSFM is instrumental to bringing me where I am today. As an Environmental Project Manager at DWB Consulting Services Ltd, I take on a broad scope of projects that range from stream rehabilitation, erosion and sediment control, biostabilization, reclamation, vegetation and wildlife surveys. I love the diversity and challenges that come with the job. If I were to give a piece of advice to anyone, I hope to leave with this:

“Don’t limit yourself to the comfort of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to relocate yourself for a job. Seek out every opportunity to develop a broad foundational background and you can turn your relevant field into a valued career.”

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