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Urban Forestry and Natural Resources

In fall 2021 semester, student enrollment at the Urban Forestry, Environment, and Natural Resources Department increased by 60% compared to spring 2020. The collective recruitment efforts of the Urban Forestry alumni resulted in twenty-five new students entered the B.S. degree program, and the total student number increased by 58% compared to spring 2020. Associate professor Dr. Yaw Twumasi led the recruitment effort for the M.S. degree program - nineteen new students were recruited, and the number of student increased by 150%. The Ph.D. program recruited 15 new students, which is a 33% increase compared to spring 2020.

The retention rate for B.S. program is 98%, M.S. program 100%, and Ph.D. program 97%. The department graduated total twenty completers, six B.S. degree recipients, seven M.S. degree, and seven Ph.D. The graduates got jobs from state of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Entergy, Georgia Power Company, Bartlett Tree Expert Company, Center for Planning Excellence in Louisiana, Tiguar Urban Forestry Consulting LLC, Baton Roots, North Carolina State University, SU Agcenter, and various graduate school/programs.

A MOU for partnership and collaboration between the USDA Forest Service and Southern University has been signed by the SU System President Dr. Ray Belton and USDA Forest Service Acting Deputy Chief Jaelith Hall-Rivera. Under the MOU, the project titled “Educating Next Generation of Leaders in Forestry, Environment, and Natural Resources” is funded by the Forest Service with $270,000 for the first funding  period, with Dr. Zhu Ning as the project leader and Department Chair. Both the MOU and the project are made possible by the excellent support of the Urban Forestry Alumna Ms. Beattra Wilson. With the funding support of the USDA Forest Service, the Department’s Student Leadership Apprentice Program awarded four new cohorts with the apprenticeship, and awarded seventeen undergraduate students with research training stipends.

The partnership with private industry has gained financial support for students. Davey Tree Expert Company continued its $2,000 per year Arbor Grant Scholarship to freshman Odell Kimble. The Davey Tree Expert Company also sponsored thirty students to attend the International Society of Arboriculture conference.

The Departmental Graduate Student Symposium was highly successful coordinated by assistant professor Dr. Veronica Manrique. At the symposium, doctoral student Lydia Chala received top prize. Lidya also received Alate Award from the Entomological Society of America. Doctoral student Felicia Amenyo received two first place awards for her presentations in scientific conferences. Six undergraduate students received the Louisiana Forestry Foundation (LFF) scholarships at $1,200 per students totaled $7,200 per academic year coordinated by Dr. Yadong Qi. Under the advisement of Dr. Yaw, seven graduate students presented total 18 papers at regional and national conferences, two got internships at the NASA DEVELOP National Program and at the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality. Students also got LSU ASPIRE and Baton Roots internships coordinated by Drs. Veronica and Qi. Doctoral student Lakshmi Dasari was selected for the Louisiana Nursey and Landscape Association (LNLA) Scholarship helped by Dr. Qi.

All Urban Forestry faculty members successful completed QM training and obtained certification for teaching online. All faculty members are actively engaging in high quality research projects, as well as mentoring graduate and undergraduate students. The Urban Forestry Departmental faculty obtained $1,446,296.00 external funding in 2021, including Dr. Veronica’ s two new grants as Co-PI totaling $159,500; Dr. Ning secured total $536,796 USDA NIFA and USDA Forest Service to support four projects that provide students with assistantships and stipends for research and training; Dr. Yaw has a grant from NASA for $750,000. The Urban Forestry faculty members published total nine peer reviewed papers and more than nine paper presentations at conferences. Among them, Dr. Twumasi leads the number of publications produced. Dr. Chappell received the community service award from MT. Carmel of Baton Rouge for helping bridge the gap in education. Dr. Yaw has been elected the director of Louisiana Academy of Sciences’ Forestry and Environment section.  He also received the departmental award for excellence in recruitment. The Department also likes to appreciate the support and contribution from the adjunct faculty members Drs. Vanessa Ferchaud, Wilbert Thomas, Raymond Sumo, Brian Watkins, and Ray Harold Lawson. 

The Departmental faculty members continue to provide excellent professional services and outreach. Dr. Chris Chappell serves on the East Baton Rouge Park and Recreation Commission Urban Forestry Master Plan Committee as a forest management and higher education advisor; co-Chair of the Louisiana Envirothon Planning Committee; and secured a recruitment agreement with Kentwood High School career counselor. The late Dr. Kamran Abdollahi formulated the 1890 Land Grant Institution Wildland Fire Consortium: Wildfire in Wildland Urban Interface -A Virtual Training Summit. Dr. Manrique is an editor of new column entitled ‘Entomology for all’ for the American Entomologist Magazine. Dr. Ning organized and hosted the Society of American Foresters National Convention closing plenary session; Ning serves on the Louisiana Governor’s Climate Initiative Task Force Science Advisory Group and Land Use, Buildings, and Housing Committee; is an expert for the FAO-ITTO-IUFRO Global Forest Education Project North America region; and is an Associate Editor of Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry. As an Invited speaker, Dr. Ning provided training on Cultivating Leadership and Diversity at the 2021 Pacific Northwest Leadership Conference, and conducted a training webinar for the Louisiana Master Naturalists of Great Baton Rouge. Dr. Qi has been an Associate Editor for the Springer journal Frontiers of Earth Science;  serves on the Board of Directors of Louisiana Forestry Association, Executive Board of the Louisiana Society of American Foresters, Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) Mentoring Program Committee, and (SMA-Municipal Forestry Institute (MFI) National Recruitment Committee. She was invited by the Society of Municipal Arborists to give a presentation at the SMA’s Diversity in Mentoring Program- 2021 Orientation ‘Kick Off’ Meeting. Dr. Yaw served as sectional Taskforce Chair of the SUBR Graduate School Strategic Planning Retreat;  External Ph.D. Dissertation committee member at Jackson State University for four students; participated in the assessment for Faculty Efficacy and Student Success and Educational Testing Service (ETS)-College Board.