Traveling Far

Ashlee Tibbets

A forestry student talks about her trip to Scandinavia to learn sustainable practices.

For one month last year, forest products marketing Master’s student Ashlee Tibbets traveled through Finland, Sweden and Norway learning about sustainable forestry practices through the College of Forestry Scandinavia Tour. She learned just as much when she visited water processing plants as she did busing her table in restaurants. Here, Tibbets answers questions about her trip, how it influenced her and what she’d like to do with her degree.

Where are you from, and what made you choose Oregon State?

I’m from Damascus, Oregon, which is a small town right next to Gresham. My sister went here, and I used to visit her all the time. So I really love the campus. I like how it’s set up. It’s like a little community.

Did you do any international traveling before the Scandinavia trip?  

I hadn’t really been anywhere before this trip. I stayed in Oregon for much of my life.

How did you find out about the program, and why did you decide to go?

I heard about it in Eric Hansen’s forest products marketing class. He did a blurb about it and handed out some information. I told him I couldn’t afford it, but he made a deal with me: If I applied for the biggest College of Forestry scholarship that would help pay for the trip, I’d go. I applied, and I got it. It paid for about 50 percent of my trip.

What were you hoping to get out of going? Did you see anything that surprised you?

I’m pretty sure that international industry will be an even bigger deal in the future than it already is. I wanted to get it under my belt, to say, ‘I’ve been to Scandinavia. I’ve seen this.’

What surprised me was how little they waste. Here, there’s often one garbage bin where you throw everything if you bus your own table. There, you scrape your food into the garbage, which often goes to a compost pile. You put your dishes and silverware aside to be recycled. They recycle everything there.

I think they’re really focusing on conservation and using as little as they can. Here, I feel like we have the “more is better” philosophy.

Would you recommend this program to others?  

I would recommend this 100 percent. This trip was awesome. The application process was really easy.

The one thing I would warn against is wearing uncomfortable shoes. We were on our feet 13 hours a day. Even when we were totally jetlagged on 2 hours of sleep, we were going

How do you feel it’s enhanced your education?

It gave me perspective. When you’re sitting in the classroom all the time, you focus on the tests and homework, and you forget you’re there to learn things that will help you improve things in your community. It’s good to get perspective and remember you’re here for a reason.

What was the coolest thing you saw when you were there?

A couple of days were dedicated to energy. We went to a nuclear power plant, and down to the medium-level waste facility. We went down these huge tunnels, probably 50 stories below the ground.

The next day we went to a hydro power plant, and down all these level to get to where the water was running through the pipes. We saw how the water was piped through four cities and how they used that energy.

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I got my undergraduate degree in wood science, which is great because of all the technical information. But now I get to mix it with the creative, communicative side. I’m hoping to go into advertising or marketing when I’m done.

My minor for my master’s is interdisciplinary, which means you can make it up as you go along. I’m focusing on sociology and communications. Which is good for me because I want to be able to be inside. I don’t want to have to wear forestry clothes every day to work outside. I did that for a couple of summers, and it wasn’t for me.

Anything you want to add?

College of Forestry students are pretty close, and we welcome new people. Be aware that you’re not just coming to school. You’re going to be in a whole new social circle. And it’s great.