Title

Student Perspectives on Enrolling in Undergraduate Forestry Degree Programs in the United States

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

NSE

Volume

40

Issue

1

Publication Date

2011

First Page

160

Last Page

166

Abstract

Undergraduate U.S. forestry degree programs experienced a steady decline in enrollments over a decade beginning in the mid-1990s. This decline prompted a survey of students enrolled in these programs to determine what factors led to their decisions to matriculate there and conversely, what may have made them hesitant to do so. The sample population consisted largely of upper-class forestry majors who attended the 2004 and 2007 Society of American Foresters’ (SAF) national conventions. An analysis of the content of survey responses indicated that students were attracted to majoring in forestry and subsequently pursuing a career in this field by a love of nature or the outdoors. Hesitation arose from concern over low wages, lack of jobs, and a negative public image of forestry. The latter factor may explain why natural resource degree programs perceived as more conservation/sustainability-oriented constitute an increasingly higher proportion of total enrollments in colleges of natural resources compared with forestry. More comprehensive surveys of students from a wider array of professional degree programs are needed to test our findings, and should be coupled to studies of the demand for forestry graduates.