Eric Melvin, 18, knows exactly what he wants to do with his life.
He knows because, while still in university, he’s already been doing it for a couple years.
"Right now I’m at (the University of Manitoba) in Environmental Studies," said Melvin, who is originally from Carman, Man. "My aspirations would be (to become) a wildlife biologist and lead a team of researchers out in the field. Right now, my desired area would be research in polar bears."
Melvin’s focus is on forestry, specifically polar bears and the effect forestry has on them. He has even had the opportunity to travel to Churchill to do some hands-on research of his own.
He was asked to travel to Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia to compete in the Junior International Forestry Contest this past September, giving a presentation on the subject there.
Though he did not place in the top three in the presentation-based competition, he was happy with the response he received from some of the other 35 competitors.
"In terms of just how I was with the others, as well as how they interpreted my presentation, it was very well received," said Melvin.
With 34 other presentations to watch, Melvin said he couldn’t learn enough.
"There were quite a few presentations that I really liked," said Melvin. "One of which was how you can use anything in the world that has a carbon base, for example wood shavings from a tree, and they can gather carbon from that and make a bio-fuel."
Melvin said his love of forestry started with the Manitoba Forestry Association’s Envirothon.
"For the longest time I was interested in wildlife biology, and I still am, but it sort of branched off into forestry," said Melvin. "I’d rather see a natural world than a world with just buildings."
He says he tries to take advantage of opportunities as they come along.
"I try to encourage students to take up these opportunities because the sky’s the limit," said Melvin. "There are tons of opportunities like this."
Melvin’s inspiration has always been his grandfather.
"He taught me a lot of different things, pretty much all the things I need to know about hunting and trapping and living off the land," said Melvin. "He was a real big contributor to my interests and everything I’ve done is for him, and he’s pretty much my biggest influence, he’s my hero."