Patrick Dravitzki shares how he switched from studying commerce to studying forestry and never looked back.
Patrick Dravitzki has always been drawn to the forest: mountain biking, running and even building bike tracks with his friends. It was a great place for recreation. Then he found out it was also a great place to work.
Now a harvest forester based in Rayonier Matariki Forests’ Whangarei location in New Zealand, Patrick says he found forestry after studying commerce. After one semester, he realized commerce wasn’t the right fit.
“I realised that it must be someone’s job to manage forests, so that’s what sparked my interest and I dug further,” he says.
He soon found out it was not just a job, but a field where there was excellent potential to find good work directly out of university.
“I liked that there were really good employment opportunities for forestry graduates and it seemed like it was a good blend of subjects that I enjoyed at school.”
Going to Forestry School
Patrick was already a student at the University of Canterbury.
“I was hoping to continue my study there. Good fortune it is the only forestry school in Australasia!”
He got to work pursuing his Bachelor of Forestry Science and he quickly knew he was in the right place.
“Forestry is a great path to take if you love working in the outdoors, meeting interesting people and serving a wide range of roles,” Patrick says. “Studying forestry science at university is great. You are in a relatively small class with 20 to 30 like-minded people. We had a forestry society who were regularly hosting BBQs, bus trips and balls, these were all very social and a great way to get to know your classmates.”
A Summer Student Program Leads to a Permanent Position
Patrick was still attending university when he first worked with Rayonier.
“I initially worked for Rayonier during the summer of 2016/2017 as part of their summer student program,” he recalls. “I worked in the Northland regional office based just outside Whangarei. This role was advertised through the university and it was open to all 2nd and 3rd year students. As part of our degree we had to complete a certain amount of infield work experience.”
Patrick didn’t know where it would lead: “At the time I had no preconceived ideas of what Rayonier would be like, but I am very happy with my decision and where that has taken me.”
By the time the summer was over, Patrick knew Rayonier would be a great employer.
“While working as a summer student I gained an insight into what Rayonier was like as an employer and what the role would involve. When in 2018 I was offered a permanent position as a graduate forester, I jumped at the opportunity.”
Enjoying Each Step in the Forest Lifecycle as a Harvest Forester
Patrick says no two days are ever alike at work.
“The best thing about my current role is, as a harvest forester, I am involved at each step of the rotation,” he says. “From the planting and establishment activities through to the silvicultural treatments and finally to the harvesting. This gives me a great insight into all aspects without having blinkers on for one stage of the rotation. It has also meant that I’m always doing something different and it is certainly never boring!”
As he continues to grow in his career, he says he’s also continuing to learn from those he works with.
“Being involved in different types of operations has meant I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside contractors who have been good enough to impart some of their knowledge and wisdom onto me.”
Advice for future New Zealand Foresters
If you’re a student looking for a career that will allow you to spend a lot of time outdoors, actively take a role in protecting the environment, and be able to find solid work after graduating, consider forestry!
“The work itself is also very interesting,” Patrick says. “You are working in a wide variety of environments with some serious characters. I would strongly recommend forestry as a career path to anybody considering it.”