Forestry and Related Natural Resources (FRNR) students from 51 countries report that enjoyment of nature was the most important factor driving their decision to enroll.
Decision factors that caused hesitation included earning potential, availability of funding, and political issues.
Importance factors differed significantly between genders, race/ethnicity, academic standing, world region, and social background (i.e. urban vs rural).
Women and people of color from multiple world regions had a greater hesitancy to enroll in an FRNR programme than their white male counterparts.
Implications for recruitment and retention include the need for continual diversity and inclusion efforts and a balance between personal preferences and employability.
A survey of 396 undergraduate and graduate students from 51 countries on 5 continents currently enrolled in Forestry or Related Natural Resource (FRNR) degree programmes was conducted of attendees to the International Union of Forest Research Organizations' (IUFRO) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, 2014. These perspectives come from some of the most active students in their respective fields. We explored the motivating reasons for enrolling in their current FRNR programme, and conversely why they may have been hesitant to do so. Results indicate that enjoyment of nature was the most important factor on average driving the decision to enroll, closely followed by job satisfaction, concern for the environment, enjoyment of outdoor recreation, being outdoors, and an interest in subject material. Hesitancy factors included earning potential, availability of funding/scholarships, and politically contentious issues. A number of significant differences were found across demographic categories. Of particular note was the greater hesitancy on the part of women and people of color to enroll in FRNR degree programmes compared to their white male counterparts. We discuss the limitations of our study arising from its international scope and imbalance of responses among countries and regions.