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Graduation to Vocation: Meeting Needs of Growing Population with Tree Improvement

Student hikes outside in woods

Austin Quate is graduating with an undergraduate degree in Forest Management. He’ll soon begin working for International Forest Company (IFCO) in Moultrie, Georgia as a Tree Improvement Technician.

Student measuring trees in field What kind of research or other hands-on/in-the-field learning did you participate in?

While at NC State, I have worked for the Cooperative Tree Improvement Program where I have learned many valuable skills necessary in tree improvement and selective breeding of loblolly pine. Working for the Cooperative has taught me many skills that I will need in my future career.

Tell us about a faculty member who influenced you.

There are several people that have influenced me. The ones that stand out are Steve McKeand, Austin Heine, and Tiffany McLean. These three people have really helped me in my time here at NC State and without them, I wouldn’t have had all the opportunities that I have been fortunate enough to have. They have helped me to be a better professional and have many contacts throughout the forestry industry. Without their help, I wouldn’t have the job lined up that I have.

What is unique about your work?

I think the most unique thing about tree improvement is that it is a combination of many different skills including genetics, forestry, silviculture, statistics, agriculture, and horticulture. I also think being able to help improve tree species to get a better outcome in order to meet the wood demands of a growing population is also very unique.

What motivated you to pursue your work?Student hiking outside

Knowing that I can make a difference in the future of forestry in the Southeast motivates me to pursue my work and to do the best I can.

What advice would you give students entering your major or field?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your peers and especially faculty and staff within CNR or your department. Also get involved in organizations with your major, its a great way to meet new people that share your same passions.

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