After a multi-year hiatus from UBC Forestry, the International Forestry Student’s Association (IFSA-UBC) is returning for the 2023-2024 school year. Learn more about the group’s history, mission and values in a Q & A with President Chenming Wei.
As the IFSA-UBC President, introduce yourself!
Allow me to introduce myself as Chenming Wei, honored to serve as the President at IFSA-UBC. My journey originates from the captivating coastal city of Rizhao, China, where the beauty of nature kindled my passion for environmental stewardship. I currently tread the path of knowledge as a Master of International Forestry student at UBC. My academic foundation boasts a B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation from UBC and a B.Sc. in Ecology from Fujian Agricultural and Forestry University, and I have worked in roles including Junior Resource Technologist in the B.C. Ministry of Forests, and Climate Ambassador at the Langley Environmental Partners Society.
As the President of IFSA-UBC, I am steadfastly dedicated to nurturing a vibrant community where diverse perspectives unite and students to propel positive change. My diverse journey, encompassing academia, entrepreneurship, and dedicated environmental action, equips me to lead our esteemed association toward a future of shared success. I am committed to bridging regional disparities, addressing environmental challenges, and fostering a vibrant community united by a shared passion for our planet.
Could you tell us about the inspiration behind revitalizing IFSA’s presence here and your vision for its role within the UBC community?
The resurgence of IFSA-UBC within the vibrant landscape of UBC Forestry is an exciting journey inspired by our collective aspiration for meaningful engagement and impactful change. As President of IFSA-UBC, I’m delighted to shed light on the revival of this extraordinary platform and its vision for enriching the UBC community.
IFSA-UBC’s return stems from recognizing the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing today’s pressing global forestry and environmental challenges. Our shared passion for sustainable practices, international collaboration, and the dissemination of knowledge has led us to rejuvenate IFSA’s presence. Our vision is not only to restore a legacy but to elevate it to position IFSA-UBC as a catalyst for transformative ideas, cross-disciplinary exchange, and community-driven initiatives.
In the heart of UBC Forestry, we envision IFSA as a dynamic hub that fosters connections across academic, cultural, and geographical boundaries. We strive to be a bridge between UBC students and the global forestry community, igniting conversations that transcend borders and unite diverse perspectives. Through networking events, seminars, competitions and international projects, we aim to empower students with a deepened understanding of global forestry issues and the tools to drive change.
What is the core mission and values of IFSA, and how does it align with UBC Forestry’s educational and research goals?
The core mission and values of the International Forestry Students’ Association (IFSA) resonate deeply with UBC Forestry’s educational and research aspirations, creating a powerful synergy that enriches both the student experience and the broader forestry community.
IFSA is driven by the fundamental belief that sustainability, cross-cultural collaboration, and the exchange of knowledge are pivotal in shaping a more resilient and interconnected world. Our mission centers on nurturing a global network of students passionate about forestry and the environment, empowering them to bridge gaps between theory and practice. By fostering international dialogue, advocating for sustainable practices, and promoting cross-disciplinary learning, IFSA cultivates a generation of leaders poised to tackle complex global challenges.
This mission seamlessly aligns with UBC Forestry’s commitment to advancing environmental stewardship and fostering excellence in education and research. UBC’s values of innovation, diversity, and sustainability echo IFSA’s principles, creating a harmonious partnership where students are equipped with a robust skillset and a deepened appreciation for global forestry issues.
As UBC Forestry strives to shape responsible leaders who make a positive impact on the environment, IFSA provides a platform for students to actively engage with the academic community, leverage experiential learning opportunities, and contribute to meaningful change. Our shared values encompass the promotion of sustainable practices, the exchange of diverse perspectives, and the pursuit of knowledge that transcends geographical boundaries.
The IFSA has a rich history with UBC Forestry, please explain some of the background.
IFSA-UBC’s roots trace back to 2011 when a group of impassioned UBC students, fresh from their transformative experience at the 39th IFSS (International Forestry Students’ Symposium) in Finland, ignited the spark that would become our IFSA-UBC local committee.
Since then, IFSA UBC has flourished into a vibrant hub of activities, enriching the UBC experience for students passionate about forestry. From enlightening foraging trips that unveil the secrets of local ecosystems to dynamic panel discussions centered around the intricacies of COP conferences, our activities transcend the boundaries of the classroom.
The essence of IFSA UBC extends beyond the borders of our campus. Each year, we send delegates to IFSS, fostering connections and building bridges with students from around the world. Locally, we collaborate with the Faculty of Forestry to deepen our sense of community and enhance the impact we collectively bring to the environmental conversation.
Our journey echoes the footsteps of those visionary students who sowed the seeds of IFSA-UBC a decade ago. Today, as we rekindle our presence, we honour their legacy by reaffirming our commitment to a sustainable and interconnected future.
Collaboration is often a driving force in achieving meaningful change. How does IFSA foster collaboration among forestry students?
Collaboration is the heartbeat of IFSA-UBC’s DNA, pulsating with the fervour of collective action and shared purpose. Locally, IFSA-UBC acts as a nexus where students from diverse forestry backgrounds converge, uniting their distinct perspectives into a symphony of ideas. Through workshops, seminars, and interactive events, we provide a canvas where knowledge can be freely exchanged, and friendships are formed beyond classroom walls.
Our commitment extends beyond our campus boundaries, resonating globally through the expansive IFSA-UBC network. By participating in international forestry symposiums, meetings, and conferences, we bridge geographical gaps and cultivate a cross-cultural dialogue that transcends borders. These interactions allow students to immerse themselves in a tapestry of international experiences, fostering mutual learning and understanding. As the conduits of knowledge and change, IFSA-UBC acts as a beacon, guiding forestry students toward a shared vision of sustainability, resilience, and unity.
Forest-related challenges, like climate change and conservation, are global concerns. How does IFSA contribute to raising awareness and finding solutions to these critical issues?
IFSA-UBC is acutely aware of the global nature of forest-related challenges and is committed to playing a significant role in addressing them. By bringing together students from diverse backgrounds and cultures, IFSA-UBC creates a platform for the exchange of ideas and knowledge. Through events, seminars, and workshops, we promote discussions on critical issues like climate change, conservation, and sustainable resource management.
Our approach involves collaboration with academic institutions, research organizations, and industry professionals worldwide. We participate in international conferences, symposiums, and projects to stay informed about the latest developments and to contribute our unique perspectives. We will use social media and digital platforms to share valuable insights, research findings, and success stories that inspire action and awareness on a global scale.
IFSA-UBC recognizes the importance of local engagement by organizing events like tree walking therapy, academic seminar, and awareness campaigns, we connect with the broader public and empower them to be part of the solution. We aim to foster a community of informed individuals who are equipped to make a positive impact on forest-related challenges locally and globally.
The UBC Forestry community is diverse and multidisciplinary. How does IFSA-UBC plan to engage students from various academic backgrounds and encourage their involvement in the association’s activities?
IFSA-UBC embraces the diversity and multidisciplinary nature of the UBC Forestry community and is committed to providing opportunities for students from all academic backgrounds to engage and contribute. Our approach to engagement is inclusive and adaptable, recognizing that the field of forestry intersects with a wide range of disciplines, from environmental science to economics, engineering to social sciences.
We achieve this inclusivity through a variety of means. Our events and activities are designed to be accessible and appealing to students with different interests and expertise. Through organizing panel discussions, academic seminars, or field trips, we ensure that the content and themes resonate with students from various academic backgrounds. This encourages cross-disciplinary discussions and the exchange of diverse viewpoints, enriching the learning experience for everyone involved.
Student leadership plays a vital role in IFSA-UBC’s past success. Could you share some insights into the leadership opportunities that IFSA offers to UBC Forestry students?
Student leadership is at the heart of IFSA-UBC’s success, and we are dedicated to providing a platform for UBC Forestry students to develop their leadership skills and make a real impact. We offer a wide range of leadership opportunities that empower students to take the reins and shape the direction of our association.
As part of our executive team, students have the chance to hold key leadership positions, which involve responsibilities that encompass event planning, communication, finance, and more. Through these roles, students gain valuable experience in project management, team collaboration, and decision-making.
IFSA-UBC encourages students to initiate and lead their projects. If you have an idea for an event, a workshop, or a project that aligns with our mission, we provide the resources, guidance, and support to help you bring it to life. This cultivates innovation and allows students to take ownership of their initiatives and develop their leadership abilities.
Our leadership opportunities extend beyond campus as well. IFSA-UBC is part of a global network, and we will send delegates to international conferences and events, providing students with the chance to represent UBC Forestry on the global stage and connect with like-minded peers from around the world.
How can students get involved?
We offer diverse committees that cater to various interests and talents, and provide students with a range of ways to get involved and make a meaningful impact within the forestry community. IFSA-UBC is hiring now. More position details on IFSA-UBC website.
Looking ahead, what can UBC Forestry students look forward to as part of IFSA-UBC’s revitalized presence on campus?
As IFSA-UBC embarks on this exciting new chapter, UBC Forestry students can anticipate a host of engaging events, initiatives, and projects that will enrich their academic journey and foster a sense of community.
Student Presentation Night, Academic Seminars, Speech and Writing Competitions and Tree Walking Therapy.