Forestry major Maria Emanuelli ’20 took advantage of academic and experiential learning in the Rubenstein School and career networking connections through the Society of American Foresters. She will start in an entry level position with the U.S. Forest Service after graduation.
Growing up in western Massachusetts, Maria developed a passion for the outdoors and the ecosystems of New England. For her, the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont (UVM) was a natural choice.
“The Rubenstein School offered many experiential learning opportunities that I was excited to take advantage of and seemed to offer a smaller, community-like learning environment that I wanted to be a part of,” she said.
During her first year in the School, she chose Forestry as her major after discovering more about the profession.
“Forestry is a career that offers the opportunity to make real, lasting change in ecosystems that will directly result in outcomes like increasing biodiversity, carbon storage, clean water, wildlife habitat, and mitigating the impacts of climate change,” said Maria. “I am excited to work in forest ecosystems and build up resiliency to climate change through forestry practices.”
Professor Tony D’Amato, his research, and his silviculture course exposed her to the intricate work that foresters do in an ecosystem to promote a variety of benefits and inspired her to begin making this work her career. She credits Tony with providing ongoing mentorship throughout her four years.
She became a teaching assistant for Natural Resource Ecology and Assessment, a forest sampling and field methods class, and helped to run weekly field lab sessions.
“I really enjoyed helping students learn foundational forestry knowledge and skills,” she said. “I realized that I am excited to communicate about forestry to others.”
In the senior-year forest management course, a cohesive finale to all she learned in the program, Maria and her classmates explored what it means to sustainably steward forest ecosystems in this era of unprecedented global change, while considering the social and economic impacts and relationships.
As a Rubenstein School Perennial Summer Intern with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, Maria conducted a forest inventory of Jay State Forest. This valuable experience exposed her to extensive field work and helped her to build connections with foresters that manage Vermont’s public lands.
“Because of this internship I am interested in possibly becoming a state lands forester in my career,” she said.
During her entire senior year, Maria worked for Shelburne Farms, a nonprofit educational farm and forest in Shelburne, Vermont, to inventory their forestland. She collected data to help the woodlands manager update the farm’s forest management plan. The project challenged her to more independently develop an inventory, produce maps and other spatial data, and summarize the information.
“There was a lot of problem solving and working through challenges for me in this project which has been a valuable learning experience,” said Maria. “The outcome of the project will be impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, but I am working to ensure the results are still valuable.”
A member of the UVM Forestry Club, a student chapter of the national Society of American Foresters (SAF), Maria served as part of the leadership team and coordinated social media for the club. The chapter offered her professional development opportunities, such as chainsaw use certification, events with local forestry practitioners, and attendance at regional and national SAF conferences where she networked with professionals.
“Connecting with other forestry students weekly was a great way to build community within the Forestry program and explore forestry beyond the classroom,” she said. “Club activities exposed me to future career options and prepared me to enter the professional world after graduation.”
Maria attended the national SAF conference in Louisville, Kentucky in the fall of her senior year and represented UVM with her classmates on the college student quiz bowl team. While there, at a recruiting event, Maria learned about the opportunity to apply for recent-graduate positions with the Forest Service through the federal Pathways Program.
After graduation, Maria will move to Oregon to start an entry level position as a timber sales inspector on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
“I am excited for this position because it sets me up on a career path in silviculture and provides me an opportunity to learn about the ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest that are new to me,” said Maria, who received the James E. Wilkinson Jr. Student Award for her outstanding accomplishments in natural resources from the Green Mountain Division of SAF. “This could lead to numerous opportunities with the Forest Service or could help me build the experience and skills needed to pursue career options elsewhere such as in state, private, or nonprofit forestry.”