Faculty of Forestry

Donor support strengthens student recruitment

Andrea Lyall

“I tell the students that it’s more than trees,” laughs Andrea Lyall, the Faculty’s Aboriginal Initiatives Coordinator. Thanks to a generous gift from Sue Johnson, Andrea’s ability to open Aboriginal high school students’ eyes to the possibilities of a UBC Forestry education have improved dramatically.

“It’s very satisfying to see students, parents and high school teachers understand the value in having more Aboriginal students involved in land management and making decisions about natural resources,” Andrea says. “UBC is helping create leaders for our communities.”

Since 2013, Andrea has visited about a dozen BC communities each year to share her story as a UBC alumna and RPF with 15 years of experience in operational forestry, aiming to inspire Aboriginal youth. In the Lower Mainland, Sandra Ramsden and Ashley Dobko, both Aboriginal students in their fourth year of undergraduate studies, have accompanied Andrea on high school visits

Sue Johnson is a longtime friend of the Faculty, having previously made gifts that created the Charlie and Sue Johnson Cabins at Loon Lake, established an entrance scholarship, and supported forest genetics research.

Sue was motivated to support this Aboriginal recruitment initiative by her belief that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential. “I wanted to try to remove some of the barriers to Aboriginal students attending UBC, including feeling like a university education is beyond them, or not knowing what opportunities are out there.”

Andrea shares this belief. “There’s a lot of potential for Aboriginal students who come to UBC Forestry. Our alumni are succeeding in a wide range of land management, conservation, and forestry jobs, and they are making positive change in their communities,” she says.

Sue is characteristically modest about her gift. “Money is there to help the next person. You pass it on to help someone else if you are lucky enough to have more than you need,” she says.