All life begins in the soil, whether it is to grow our food or our forests. In the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences (ALES), we ensure that our students spend as much time as possible outside to experience the environment where resources strive so that they can apply the knowledge that they gained in the classroom. Nowadays, most of the population lives in urban settings, and therefore it is important to provide opportunities for students to go out and see first hand how the industries that they will work in operate.

Students get their hands and feet dirty, and actually do the work. Agriculture and Forestry are not spectator sports! Students are put deep into the exhausting workday of a farmer or forester, pitching in on whatever is needed. They learn techniques and look at real-world problems and solutions.

Forestry Field-Based Learning

Field-based learning helps students translate classroom learning into real-world knowledge and skills that will prepare them for their future careers. Students learn technical skills, develop a broad understanding of challenges and opportunities in the practice of forestry, and build their critical thinking skills and professional networks. Nothing can replace the fantastic learning opportunities of field-based learning.

Forestry Field School 

As the late Dr. Peter Murphy noted in a summary of the inaugural University of Alberta forestry field camp in 1971, “Forestry and natural resources management are fields in which outdoor experience is essential. Forestry students are well advised to work in this field at every opportunity - for in this way the classroom instruction becomes more relevant, and the student’s thinking becomes more precise.” It remains true today, 51 years after the onset of Alberta’s first university forestry program.

Forestry education, the development of talent, and building strong communities are the foundations of sustainable management and working within our forest landscapes as a major contributor to Alberta’s economy.

Through support from donors, we can lift the burden of cost for field learning for all students.

Gillian Stauffer (2019 ALES - Renewable Resources - Forestry graduate) discusses the Forestry Field School.


The Mini-Internship Program takes advantage of Reading Week to give students hands-on work/farm/production experience, building their confidence for future careers. It provides these mostly urban students with three days of first-hand exposure to the agriculture, environmental and food production systems.

Through support from donors, the costs are covered for transportation, accommodation and bio-security equipment, leaving the students free to learn and experience their chosen fields without concern for financial barriers.

Prof. Frank Robinson (Poultry production and physiology) discusses the Work-Integrated-Learning program.

Why it matters: ALES graduates who participate in WIL programs are ready-to-work and generally realize improved transferable skills, enhanced professional identity and increased employment rates after graduation.
  • Most students registered in ALES agricultural programs are from an urban background, so it is critical to connect them to jobs in the industry where they can see first-hand the skills that will be required in jobs that are often in rural settings.
  • Growth in interest in WIL programs. Increased interest from students and a range of farm operators and veterinarians are stimulating our plans to increase program offerings to other agricultural and environmental disciplines as funding permits.

The big picture: There is increased competition in the workplace as well as heightened demand for workplace-ready graduates from both employers and government. ALES Work-Integrated-Learning programs provide for those needs.

  • ALES Mini-Internships are focused, intensive hands-on experiential learning programs. Scheduled to run during Reading Weeks in the Fall and Winter semesters, Mini-internships let students get their hands dirty with day-to-day operations in their future careers.
  • Demand increases. Some student participants have applied for additional placements in varied environments.
  • Additional programs are under development. Contact us if you’d like to be involved!

Your participation: Work-Integrated Learning program donors help support these programs. Donations assist with transportation, appropriate work clothing, and accommodations (as required).

  • Donations - support programs through online donations
  • To make a donation and support students in taking part in Work Integrated Learning opportunities, please click here
  • Because the mini-internships continue to be popular by ALES students with different career aspirations, we want to expand our list of partners and offering to students. If you are interested in taking part of the mini-internships as a site host for student placements, please email: