DURHAM, N.C. – Christine Martens, a 2023 Master of Forestry graduate of the Nicholas School, has been named recipient of this year’s national Student Leadership Award from the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

While a student at Duke, Martens served as a forestry intern with the U.S. Forest Service at Natural Bridge, Va.; was treasurer and co-president of the Duke Student Chapter of SAF; and volunteered with the Carolina Mountain Club and the New Zealand Department of Conservation – all while maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Her Master’s Project was “Recreation in Duke Forest,” which surveyed recreational activities in the 7,000-acre forest and estimated their recreational value at $3.5 million a year—knowledge that can now be used by forest managers to better allocate resources.

In recognition of her outstanding scholarship, she was named a co-recipient of the Nicholas School’s 2023 Virlis L. Fischer Memorial Award for academic achievement.

Jeff Vincent, faculty co-chair of the Nicholas School’s Master of Forestry program, says Martens’ leadership skills were a driving force behind the revitalization of Duke’s SAF student chapter following two years of relative inactivity due to COVID.

In close collaboration with her co-president, Andrea Kolorova (MEM ’23), she significantly increased the chapter’s membership and revived its programming, including organizing its annual short courses on chainsaw safety and wildland firefighting; re-initiating networking events with local MF alumni; and coordinating a Forest Symposium on “Forest Resiliency in the Face of Climate Change,” that attracted 70 registered participants, including many professional foresters from the surrounding region.

“On her own or in collaboration with other students, Christine wrote successful grant proposals to SAF, the Nicholas School, and Duke to fund the symposium. She also wrote a successful proposal to the Nicholas School to fund, in perpetuity, the chainsaw and firefighting short courses,” said Vincent. “These are major accomplishments that help ensure our student chapter of SAF will maintain its high level of activity and impact for years to come.”

Martens currently works as a forester/ecologist at the U.S. Forest Service in Asheville, N.C.