Volunteer Internship Program

Do you need some hands-on field experience with forestry practices?  The UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest (MKRF) in Maple Ridge, B.C. and Alex Fraser Research Forest (AFRF) in Williams Lake, B.C. each offer opportunities for students from Canada and abroad to join in with our activities on a daily basis so as to become familiar with practical skills such as navigation, mensuration, and data collection.  This unpaid internship aims to provide introductory field skills to 2nd, 3rd and 4th year forestry students or students in related fields.

Each year between May and October at AFRF and March to November at MKRF, up to two internship positions are available at each Research Forest for a minimum of one month and a maximum of four months, depending on capacity and interest. For stays two months or longer volunteers may be able to split their time between the two Research Forests — this option must be arranged during the application process.

Knowing that forestry employers seek to hire people who have the skills to safely and competently conduct field work, we aim to provide volunteer interns the chance to learn some of those basic skills. You will learn how to prepare and read maps, use a compass and GPS unit, collect a variety of data and contribute to managing those data, and spend lots of time gaining familiarity with various terrain and forest conditions. Come prepared for rain, heat and mosquitoes – our Canadian forests are beautiful but sometimes challenging! Interns are expected to work closely with, and under the supervision of, Research Forest staff, assisting with field duties as required and keeping regular office/field hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm). Volunteers can expect to spend most days in the field, joining both junior and senior staff with silviculture, harvest planning, operations and research duties
(e.g. measuring trees, assisting with silviculture surveys, mapping and marking operational boundaries, entering data into databases and GIS, or assisting with road layout and maintenance). Sometimes assistance with manual tasks is also requested (e.g. trail maintenance, manual stand tending on small areas).

We schedule interns to actively participate with the field work that our staff is conducting in a given season and aim to provide as broad an exposure as possible. Please note that forestry field work does have elements of seasonality and repetitiveness. For instance, in the spring planting season, the focus will be on conducting planting surveys and overseeing planting contracts. Then during the rest of the summer and fall, kilometers of harvest block boundaries, skid trails, and new roads get transposed from our GIS onto the ground. Interspersed through the field season, will be other projects such as inventory or research measurements or looking for forest health problems that need to be managed. So while the methodology for each job-type will be similar, the locations, ecological settings and terrain will vary. The Volunteer Internship Program at the UBC Research Forests will provide participants with introductory forestry field skills and an opportunity to see first-hand the processes involved with forest management in British Columbia.

We are flexible in accommodating interns’ needs for related experience and personal travel outside of the Research Forest. Additionally, interns are welcome to visit research sites of interest and will be invited along on tours we host. If students are required by their home university to prepare reports about their internship, some time during work hours may be provided, although personal time should also be used.

Volunteers will need to provide proof of medical coverage, a valid driver’s license, and ability to drive a manual transmission vehicle. Hiking boots with lugged soles and ankle support, plus good quality rain gear is required. We also recommend volunteers have their own rugged- or caulk-soled waterproof boots. All other forestry field equipment will be provided.

Download the application here and email it to ionut.aron@ubc.ca for MKRF and stephanie.ewen@ubc.ca for AFRF.