March 5, 2008
The University of Maine at Fort Kent will offer a Forest Management concentration within its Business Management baccalaureate degree program beginning with the fall semester 2008, it was announced today.
The Forest Management concentration is the third new program tailored to individual student and business needs announced by UMFK in as many months.
The Forest Management concentration within the Business Management major will provide several opportunities for UMFK graduates. It will permit a student to complete the Associate of Science degree in Forest Technology, which is a very marketable degree in itself. It also will enable students to complete a Bachelors of Science in Business Management degree. Both degrees can be completed in four years.
“The forest industry is a mainstay of the economy in northern Maine and it also is a key to so many things that we do here at UMFK,” said University President, Dr. Richard W. Cost. “That is why I am so pleased to today announce the creation of the forest management concentration. The University’s proximity to the wonders of Maine’s wilderness is a central theme of our mission. Graduates of the forest management concentration will play a big role in forestry’s future contributions to the local and regional economies and in preserving the wilderness that we all enjoy so much,” Dr. Cost added.
The baccalaureate degree allows graduates greater advancement opportunities within many forestry companies. The forest industry within Maine is actively seeking new foresters, particularly those with a baccalaureate degree.
“UMFK graduates are well trained in today’s technology and in yesterday’s field skills. They can hit the ground running, upon graduation,” said Forest Management concentration coordinator Dave Hobbins, professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies at UMFK.
Working with local industry officials, UMFK’s Forestry and Business faculty have developed such a program. The forestry background gives graduates sound forestry management and field skills; the business training provides a foundation in business, personnel management, and other important business management skills; all critical to forestry today.
Now is a great time to seek a career in forestry. The ratio of jobs to graduates is at an all-time high, and that ratio is expected to increase. Changes in technology have created many new skill sets, different from the forestry jobs of the past. UMFK’s Forestry and Business programs can prepare students to fill those jobs.
"This program answers a need expressed by local employers for people trained in business to work in forest management. We are responding to local needs," says Dr. Roger Roy, Associate Professor of Mathematics & Business at UMFK.
UMFK’s forest technology graduates have excelled in the forestry profession. Among its graduates are a chief of silviculture; a director of Maine’s Forest Protection Division; numerous Forest Rangers; several Maine Forest Service foresters and technicians; and numerous foresters and several technicians for local industry and forest management companies.
Currently, UMFK graduates are sought out for positions as foresters, forest rangers, forest technicians, and for positions in forest operations. The following are descriptions of forestry and forestry-related positions that typically are available to UMFK graduates.
Foresters are land managers. The job varies according to the size of the company or agency. However, foresters develop management plans and manage land based on the goals determined by the landowner. They oversee and implement operations from road building and harvesting, to tree planting and intermediate operations. Consulting foresters tend to be generalists. Within larger companies, foresters may specialize in one phase of management, such as log buying or forest inventory. Foresters need various skills from engineering to personnel management.
Forest rangers are in the business of forest protection. Their job involves the detection, prevention, and suppression of forest fires. Additionally, the job involves a great deal of public education. In some states, forest rangers are involved in prescribed burning. This is a forest management tool used in forest regeneration, to reduce fuels and fire potential, and to enhance wildlife habitat. In the state of Maine, forest rangers have the added duty of enforcing forestry and environmental law. A forest ranger’s work includes preparing and updating fire action plans, training firefighters, and supervising suppression operations. Students wishing to pursue careers in administration, or who wish to seek advancement within government agencies, must consider a baccalaureate degree. UMFK offers such an opportunity through its Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies and its Bachelor of Science degree in Rural Public Safety Administration.
Forest technicians carry out the day-to-day tasks of forestry. They provide skills in areas such as forest inventory, boundary surveying, timber marking, timber harvesting and road layout, and the supervision of harvesting, thinning, and planting crews. Although much of their time is spent in the field, modern forestry requires a strong background in computers and spatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS). Technicians also need strong communication skills to communicate with their superiors or to crews under their supervision. Forest technicians and foresters compete for entry level positions. Forest technicians generally have stronger field skills. However, individuals seeking advancement, whether in industry or government, should consider a baccalaureate degree.
Forest operators include equipment operators and crew supervisors. A recent trend has emerged where the forest industry is seeking forestry-educated individuals to run wood processors and other equipment. Several recent UMFK graduates are working in such positions. One is an operations forester; another is a crew supervisor. Others have become contractors and are running their own harvesting and operations companies. The UMFK business management major, coupled with a forestry degree, is a useful combination for individuals seeking careers in the business side of forestry.
For further information on the Forest Management concentration within the Business Management major at UMFK, please call the University’s Admissions Office at 888-879-8635.