Hands-on Experience Made the Difference
Forest Tech Alum Kyle Lombard talks about the best decision he ever made, choosing the Thompson School as his first post-secondary experience and how the hands-on curriculum gave him an advantage when competing for jobs with other recent graduates.
As a high school senior I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take with my life and career. I applied to several different schools, one of them being the UNH 4-year Forestry program. I wasn’t immediately accepted at UNH but was offered admissions to the 2 year Forest Technology Program at Thompson School. I had never heard of the program before, but I thought the field of forestry sounded interesting. Since the Thompson School is part of UNH , I took the offer to become part of the Forest Tech program.
My initial plan was to try and prove myself, so that I could transfer into the four-year program, however it turns out that going to the Thompson School was the best decision I ever made and I’ve been telling every forestry student for the last 15 years that I was lucky enough to have made the right choice. What made the Thompson School the right choice? It was the ground level field experience that helped me compete for jobs with other graduates that had little hands-on experience.
The Thompson School helped me get where I am today because the coursework provided a strong foundation in forestry that I could build into a career and today I’m a Forest Entomologist for the NH Division of Forests and Lands. My experience was also important because of the strong friendships I created with fellow students and professors. We spent a lot of time in the field gaining practical experience and this helped us develop into a close knit group. These relationships born out of group exercises and projects in the field continue to help me in the NH Forestry community.
After I completed my Associate Degree at the Thompson School, I continued on to complete a B.S. in Forestry at UNH. I was the only Thompson School student that continued on in those years and finding myself in the B.S. program with all the field experience from the Thompson School under my belt really set me apart and above the other students at UNH.
Overall, the requirement to gain professional experience at the Thompson School turned out to be the most important element of my education and resume development. After the first year at Thompson School, I took a summer forestry job with a leader in the Forest Industry as part of my Work Experience requirement. I immediately saw the importance of that experience and each of the next four summers while in college I worked for a different Company or State Agency throughout New England. Once I graduated with degrees from Thompson School and UNH, I had gathered a wealth of diverse field experience and was hired full time by the U.S Forest Service. Field experience and a reputation for working hard is as important as any degree and should be a priority for any student.
It’s a privilege to work in the field of endeavor you love and my future goals are nothing more than to continue that work in Forest Health.
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