An interview with Timothy Volk, CABLE Faculty Mentor from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF).
Q: What university are you the Faculty Mentor for and what is your area of expertise?
Tim: I represent the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). My area of expertise is related to developing systems for the production of biomass in the US and overseas and assessing the sustainability of these systems.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy hiking and exploring gorges and waterfalls in the central NY area and beyond, cycling in the warmer months and ice skating in the winter. Reading is an activity that I enjoy year round.
What attracted you to becoming a mentor for the CABLE program and what do you hope to gain from your experience?
I value and enjoy the opportunity to interact and learn from people from various disciplines and places around the country and the world that have perspectives that are different from my own. The chance to be a part of a project that included people from across the country with different perspectives and backgrounds was appealing. Also the chance to provide students opportunities to engage with a wide range of people from academia and business and to receive some training related to leadership was very appealing. Coming from a relatively small school, this is a wonderful opportunity to provide students with a much broader view of the bioeconomy and a chance for them to engage with a diverse set of people in the field.
How do you think being a mentor for CABLE Student Delegates will impact their leadership development?
This program intentionally guides students to focus on developing leadership skills and strengths. Leadership development is a part of the mentoring process that has not been part of my experience in academia and is something that is missing. The CABLE program will broaden students’ experience and help them to grow in areas that are not addressed by traditional academic programs. This program will also broaden students’ view of the bioeconomy and provide insights about fields that are outside their specific field of study and academic research.
If you could pass on any wisdom to CABLE Student Delegates, what would you share?
Engage with people in the CABLE network and the organizations you are being connected with as often as you can and learn from them. Approach others with an open mind and perspective. Everyone has something to offer that will broaden you. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions and start conversations, you never know where they will lead. The people involved in this project have a desire to build into students and help them grow as leaders, so take advantage of this passion that the CABLE team has to help you grow.
What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned and how is it valuable?
You need to be a lifelong leaner to be a successful leader. Never stop asking questions, wondering about how people, organizations and systems work, and looking at the world and problems from different perspectives. There are so many ways of looking at the world and the challenges we face. If I ever think I have this all figured out, I will become stagnant and an ineffective leader. I will also miss opportunities to grow, change, and improve myself and others. There are so many different ways to engage in lifelong learning beyond traditional academic systems. So find ways that inspire you and keep on growing. Travelling and reading are two ways I enjoy expanding my horizons and perspectives.