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SU Urban Forestry marks 20 years, gets funding for ‘educational forest’
Southern University’s Urban Forestry Program celebrated its 20th anniversary today with country’s top forester officially designating a portion of the campus as an educational forest.
The designation is part of a $120,000 “Urban Forest Education Experience” grant from the Forest Service to restructure an area of thick vegetation and animal life along a campus-wide ravine into an outdoor classroom for urban forestry students and nature enthusiasts.
Some $60,000 of the funds will be used to establish a living forest laboratory that will be part of the Urban Forestry program’s curriculum and will be used for research. “Everything is there, plants, trees, animals…,” said Dr. Kamran Abdollahi, professor and program leader of the Urban Forestry program. The rest of the funding will be used to establish an urban forestry training program at the site.
Dozens of alumnus of the Urban Forestry program gathered on campus Thursday and Friday to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. USDA Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and members of his staff came to the university to participate in the festivities marking the 20-year milestone and to be part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday for the educational forest.
"This program at Southern is an excellent example of how we’re being able to reach out and attract some different people to get engaged and involved in forestry in all aspects of forestry…and I look forward to us being able to move forward with this kind of rejuvenation of a longstanding partnership with Southern University,” Tidwell said.
The USDA has pledged to assist Southern in attracting undergraduate and graduate students in forestry and related natural resource science fields, provide students with employment opportunities, tuition assistance, paid internships and books. Students will also receive job placement assistance after earning their Masters or doctoral degrees.
Chancellor Dr. James L. Llorens the agreement and the outdoor learning lab will provide the university with another avenue “to attract students to the Baton Rouge campus and it helps us to build the reputation of our Urban Forestry program.”
Abdollahi said, “the Educational Forest collaborative initiative will preserve our treasured wetland urban forests on the campus and will provide opportunities for students to learn, conduct research, and utilize it for recreational purposes.”
Eventually, Abdollahi said, there will be walking paths and observation areas in “this living laboratory.”
In the photo on the webpage from l to r: Chancellor Dr. James L. Llorens, USDA Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Dr. Kamran Abdollahi, professor and program leader of the Urban Forestry program.