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Ian Foertsch '09

Inspired by Nature

With a mixture of humility and awe, Ian Foertsch reflects on the contributions his family and friends have made. From his cousin’s commitment to serve for two stints in Iraq to a friend’s decision to volunteer in an impoverished African country, this senior explores the paths others have taken in an attempt to understand how he, too, can make a difference.

Ian’s commitment to service has also been inspired and refined by his own experiences. A NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) trip to Mexico - during which he backpacked, sailed, and sea-kayaked – as well as two summers spent working on an organic farm in his hometown of Westborough, Massachusetts have solidified his commitment to working with the land.

“The time I spent living and working outdoors helped me appreciate my surroundings more than I had before and has motivated me to pursue a career that has me outdoors and working with the natural world,” Ian says.

Ian plans to graduate in May with a natural resource management degree, and is considering work as a consulting forester so that he can help others make healthy long-term land management decisions. He may also explore a career as a land manager himself.

“It’s a broad degree that prepares you for a lot of different careers,” Ian says regarding the NRM program. “In the end, it gave me what I was looking for: something in the environmental field that helped me build the applicable skills I will need to have a positive impact.”

For his senior project, Ian started a student chapter of the Society of American Foresters, a project that gave him practical experience and a taste of the options available after receiving his degree.

Ian hopes to one day go to graduate school, but in the meantime continues to experiment with his role as public servant. Recently, he decided to take on an undergraduate research assistant position with Prof. Natalie Coe to monitor Beech Bark Disease. He’s also a resident assistant.

“I wanted these two experiences to see if I related better with people or plants,” Ian laughs. “And I’ve discovered that they are both rewarding in their own way. While people tend to be more interesting, interactive, and entertaining, I’ve also discovered that if you put in the effort, plants can talk to you in ways people simply don’t.”

By Nicole Ainsworth '09

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