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Pack Reflections: Cory Norris ’24

A student in his cap and gown stands in front of a concrete building.

Cory Norris graduated from the NC State College of Natural Resources in May 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in forest management.

Norris is a third-generation student. His father, Ryan Norris, graduated from the college in 1996. His grandfather, Tommy Norris, graduated from the college in 1970.

The Norris family has been active in the forestry industry for decades through Tri-State Land and Timber, LLC. The company is one of the largest wood suppliers in North Carolina.

While Norris originally applied to NC State with the intention of studying mechanical engineering, he eventually shifted his degree path to forest management.

“I decided to turn to forest management because it was something that was familiar and I would have more in common with other students in the program,” Norris said.

He added, “I grew up around the business and saw the reasons why my father and grandfather enjoyed being in it. When I was young, I sometimes rode around with my dad while he was working so I started to learn about the business from a young age.”

Norris recognizes the importance of continuing his family’s legacy at NC State, but he emphasized that he feels “just like anyone else who is graduating” from the forest management program.

“Just because I am a third-generation forestry student does not mean I am any more special than those standing beside me at graduation. They worked just as hard for the degree as I did and deserve just as much respect for it,” he said.

Norris plans to attend graduate school to study geographic information systems. We recently spoke with him to learn more about his NC State experience. Check out the Q&A below.

How has the College of Natural Resources prepared you for your future?

I think the biggest thing the college has done for me so far is to professionally prepare me for my future. What I mean be this is that it has taught me how to be a professional in the workplace and how to properly communicate with others.

What’s your favorite memory or class from your time at NC State?

My favorite memories from my time at NC State have to be going to the football games. I loved tailgating the games with my friends and meeting new people.

Why are you passionate about forest management?

One thing unique about forestry from other professions is that everyday consists of something different. You won’t be tied down in an office all of the time and you’re not going in the forests doing the same thing over and over. You could wake up one day thinking you will be doing something and then get a call and have to immediately change plans. I think I would enjoy this style or work because it will never get boring or repetitive.

What motivated you to pursue a degree in forest management?

Obviously, what motivated me to pursue forestry first was that my father and grandfather both did it and it felt familiar. But the people and friends I met in the program and industry are the reason why I stuck with it. It doesn’t matter what I am doing at a point in time as long as I am doing with people I get along with and who are respectful.

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

My biggest recommendation would be to use school as a way to make connections. Take advantage of the many field trips and presentations from people currently in the field in order to make connections. Being the person to reach out and trying to form connections can show a sense of work ethic and that you’re not afraid to put yourself out there, which is very important to many businesses. Forming these connections is the best way to find jobs.