The Inaugural Naysmith Scholar: Preparing Students to be Leaders in Natural Resources Stewardship

Dr. Naysmith poses with Julia Ieropoli

Forests from the Canadian north to the southern tropics protect every aspect of our global ecosystem.  Trees play a key role in carbon storage, flood control, soil stability, and clean air and water.

No one understands this better from empirical example than Dr. John Naysmith - the former director of Lakehead's School of Forestry and the founding dean of the Faculty of Forestry.

Now Dr. Naysmith's daughter Jean-Ann and son-in-law Bob Rooney have established an endowment, to which John's wife Etoile immediately made a substantial contribution, to honour John Naysmith's legacy.

On September 30, 2016, Lakehead University announced that $2,000 will be awarded annually to the individual selected as the Naysmith Scholar - an Honours Bachelor of Science in Forestry or Honours Bachelor of Environmental Management student who has completed their third year.

"This award will further encourage Lakehead students to cultivate informed dialogue concerning global human needs and nature's capacity to meet them," Dr. Naysmith explains.

His love of forests is longstanding.  In 1947 while still a high school student, he had a summer job with an Abitibi Power and Paper Company timber cruising party responsible for sampling tree stands.  The job entailed walking through dense forest, sleeping in tents, and canoeing uncharted water.  "I loved every minute of it," Dr. Naysmith says.

Since then, he has helped transform and strengthen the field of natural resources.  One of his internationally-recognized achievements was his leadership in the development and writing of the National Conservation Strategy for Nepal.  Another fulfilling aspect of his career has been working with Lakehead students.  "They were so enthusiastic - it was inspiring for me." 

In the 1990s, Dr. Naysmith established an international exchange program involving students from Lakehead, Ghana in West Africa, and Nepal in Southeast Asia.  "This sparked discussion between young people from different parts of the world about approaches to forest stewardship," he says.

Dr. Naysmith's continuing relationship with Lakehead includes judging undergraduate thesis presentations.  "The skill with which these young people express themselves is remarkable - their ability to connect with others is precisely what is needed today."

Julia Ieropoli is awarded the inaugural Naysmith ScholarshipThat's why he is so thrilled with Julia Ieropoli, a fourth-year forestry student and the inaugural Naysmith Scholar.  Julia is the co-president of the Lakehead Natural Resources Student Society and she's currently organizing a symposium on stewardship.


Pictured above (l. to r.):  Bob Rooney, Jean-Ann Naysmith Rooney, Dr. John Naysmith, Julia Ieropoli, Lakehead President Brian Stevenson, Natural Resources Management Dean Ulf Runesson, and Sasha Naysmith McMonagle (Dr. Naysmith's granddaughter.)

"It's been amazing to get to know Dr. Naysmith," Julia says.  "I wish I'd had the opportunity to have a class with him.  He's so intelligent and such a gentleman - there's really no one like him."  When she graduates in June 2017, Julia will be working as an assistant forest engineer for a forestry company on Vancouver Island.  

You can contribute to the well-being of our planet and its people by making a gift to the Naysmith Scholar endowment fund.  Please contact Meghan Hanbury at 807-343-8010 x. 8910 or by email at