July 13, 2003 - University of Washington: Fortunately, a Peace Corps recruiter offered me a position in Liberia, West Africa

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Liberia: Peace Corps Liberia : The Peace Corps in Liberia: July 13, 2003 - University of Washington: Fortunately, a Peace Corps recruiter offered me a position in Liberia, West Africa

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 13, 2003 - 9:29 am: Edit Post

Fortunately, a Peace Corps recruiter offered me a position in Liberia, West Africa

Fortunately, a Peace Corps recruiter offered me a position in Liberia, West Africa

Faculty Profile Ivan Eastin

Learning how fibers are produced from the abaca plant in Los Banos, Philippines.

Ivan Eastin, Associate Professor in the Management and Engineering Division and Associate Director of CFR's Center for International Trade in Forest Products (CINTRAFOR), came to the College in 1992. Ivan says, "Everyone has heard stories of kids who always knew what they wanted to be when they grew up: I wasn't one of those kids. Growing up in Detroit, MI, I used to spend summers on my grandfather's tree farm in Kazabazua, Quebec, tying up young red pine trees that had been bent over by the snow during the previous winter. It was hard work but I enjoyed being outdoors with my grandfather. When I entered Michigan Technological University as a freshman, I was first attracted by the forestry program. However, I soon realized that I wanted a major that was more quantitative, so after a year in forestry I switched to civil engineering. While I enjoyed the quantitative aspects of the program, I didn't look forward to a career working with industrial materials like steel and concrete."

Finding himself at an impasse in his career objectives and low on funds, Ivan joined the U.S. Army to contemplate his future. He says, "Despite what we've all heard about the military, the Army wasn't such a bad experience for me. From it I gained three things that I have always been grateful for: self-discipline, the GI Bill, and a six-month sojourn on Eniwetok Atoll in the South Pacific, where I learned to operate a D7F bulldozer, a backhoe, and a bucket loader during an operation to clean up the waste left behind by the U.S. atomic bomb testing program." Returning to Michigan Tech, Ivan found that he could combine his interests in engineering and wood by pursuing a degree in wood science and engineering. Five years later, with the completion of a master's degree in wood science imminent, he was forced to contemplate what to do with his degrees. "Fortunately, a Peace Corps recruiter offered me a position in Liberia, West Africa before I had gotten too far involved in the inevitable job search that awaits new graduates. (Living in the boondocks of Upper Michigan doesn't mean that we didn't have a worldly outlook, and I was deeply touched when some of my fellow graduate students, upon hearing of my Peace Corps assignment, presented me with a book entitled Iberia, the Spanish Experience).

In Liberia, I went through the three-month training program but on graduation day was informed that the job for which I had been recruited was no longer available. I was told that I could either find myself another job or go home I decided to see what kind of job I could find. Since a coup attempt had just occurred, it was a few months before I finally found a position as an assistant professor of wood science at the University of Liberia. It was during my tenure there that I found what I wanted to do when I "grew up!"

Following his Peace Corps service, Ivan pursued a Ph.D. in forest products marketing at the University of Washington under the joint tutelage of Paul Smith and Jay Johnson. Since his interest in international research had been kindled by his work in Liberia, Ivan applied for and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to conduct doctoral research in Kumasi, Ghana. His research focused on the impact of the tropical hardwood boycott in Europe on business strategies in the sawmill industry. During his nine months in Kumasi, Ivan had the opportunity to meet with the managers of virtually every sawmill in the country.

Non-timber forest products are part of the local economy in the rural Philippines.

"After receiving my doctoral degree, I accepted a short consulting assignment in Ghana with USAID and upon my return was offered a faculty position with CFR. Working with CINTRAFOR since 1992, I've continued my research in the marketing and utilization of lesser-used tropical timber species as well as non-timber forest products. Both research areas focus on the more efficient utilization of tropical forest resources as a component of sustainable forest management and have provided me the opportunity to work extensively in Ghana and the Philippines. Our research on lesser-used tropical timber species culminated in an International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) experts meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where I participated with a group of researchers, environmentalists, and industry representatives in the testing and evaluation of a CD-ROM database of lesser-used tropical timber species.

Here at CFR I teach two undergraduate courses forest products marketing and international trade and marketing of forest products. I am also developing a course entitled `The Relationship Between Forests and Economic Development in the Tropics' that will be offered in Spring 2002. Development of this course is being funded by and will be jointly offered through the UW's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs (for their graduate students enrolled in the Peace Corps Master's International Program and their Development Policy and Management graduate certificate program.)"

Ivan's research interests include identifying constraints (both market-based and regulatory) to the use of U.S. wooden building materials in Japan, identifying strategies for evaluating and promoting 2x4 construction technology in Japan, exploring the market implications of regulatory constraints to forest products trade in Japan, the U.S., and Canada, understanding the factors that adversely affect the competitiveness of wood products exporters in the Pacific Northwest, understanding the factors that influence material substitution in the U.S. residential construction industry, and the more effective marketing of lesser-used timber species and non-timber forest products as a component of a sustainable forest management program.

Ivan says, "I have a wonderful wife and three children, twins who are four years old (a boy and a girl) and an older boy who is six years old. Prior to having children (and hopefully again after they are older!) my wife and I enjoyed hiking the alpine lakes trails in the Cascades, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, and jogging. In the interim, I enjoy working around the house and yard, and messing around with my kids."

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Story Source: University of Washington

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Liberia; Wood Science



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