Shane McQuillan

'Being involved in an experiment from start to finish really improved my insight and management...'

  • Shane McQuillan

Bachelor of Forestry Science with Honours

Utility Forester, Davey Tree/Commonwealth Edison, Chicago, USA

Shane's degree in Forestry has taken him straight from UC to the United States to work in a job he has loved from day one.

'In a very short time, I have travelled most of the Chicagoland area and suburbs, from downtown to hundreds of miles out in the country. I meet so many different people and no two job sites are the same. The trees in Chicago are amazing - it's like the city is one giant botanic gardens.'

Shane's role sees him creating vegetation management plans for new power line construction, but he also works on storm hardening, which involves writing plans to protect trees and power lines. Since the trees might be owned by private or public entities, Shane also has to use his skills in dealing with customers.

'Eventually I would like to become a city forester,' says Shane. 'They are responsible for everything to do with trees in a city, from insect problems, to construction issues, dealing with property owners and so on.'

He feels his degree has prepared him well for this direction.

'All forestry is some form of land management, and it is testament to the course that I'm able to work in an environment that would be totally foreign to most New Zealand graduate foresters. From using statistics, ArcGIS, managing tree crews and everything in between, I have my Forestry degree to thank that I can do this. For example, as a forester in an urban environment, the tree identification course helped me a lot — we are expected to know a White Oak from a Red Oak in the middle of winter.'

Shane had previously worked in the forestry industry in Australia, in plantation establishment. He decided there that he wanted his career to go further, and into more challenging areas.

'Christchurch is my home town and Canterbury's School of Forestry is highly regarded so it was an easy decision to come back,' he says. 'I really enjoyed it. Students tend to be really cool people, and as the School is small there is a strong sense of community. I made some lifelong friends, with students and professors alike.'

One of the highlights for Shane was to take part in a joint scholarship between Scion (a Crown Research Institute for the forestry industry, based at UC) and UC's School of Forestry.

'It was one of the most rewarding and interesting experiences I've ever had,' he says. 'Being involved in an experiment from start to finish really improved my insight and management techniques. When you interview for a job, having participated in something extracurricular is a strong advantage.'

Not that finding a job should be much of a problem for Forestry graduates, in Shane's view.

'In my year everyone had a job before we had even finished studying. I came into my degree thinking of a particular occupation, but by the time I got to graduation I realised that you can work in the forestry industry with almost any skill set. From a traditional forester to a banker, statistician, or environmental management — the degree can take you anywhere!'

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