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SU urban forestry professor honored with USDA Excellence in Teaching Award


Zhu H. Ning, professor, Urban Forestry and Natural Resources Department in the College of Agriculture, Southern University, Baton Rouge, was honored with the United States Department of Agriculture Excellence in College and University Teaching Award, November 13, 2016, in Austin Texas, during the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) annual meeting.


Through a USDA national expert panel review and APLU competitive selection process, Ning was chosen as one of the eight winners among the outstanding nominees representing the nation's universities.


During the National Awards Program, Donny Ramaswamy, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), introduced and presented the award to Ning. To honor the award recipients, the APLU presented the awardees with a Golden Apple Award Trophy at its award luncheon.


According to the USDA and the APLU, this National Awards Program recognizes the extraordinary efforts of educators who distinguished themselves in a field of hundreds of thousands of men and women who work tirelessly to improve the world through their research, instruction, and community engagement.  Established by the Secretary of Agriculture under the authorization of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act, the National Awards Program focuses national attention on the role of teaching; fundamental to recruiting and retaining the scientific and professional expertise essential to the future growth and progress. The award is to honor excellence in teaching by recognizing faculty who both practice and promote effective, innovative teaching. Recipients exhibited sustained, meritorious and exceptional teaching achievements.


In her award acceptance speech, Ning expressed her gratitude to the SU administrators who attended the award events including Bobby Phills, dean of the College of Agriculture and Chancellor of SU Agriculture Research and Extension Center, associate dean Dozé Butler, vice chancellor Dawn Million-Patin, associate research director and Agriculture Science Department Chair Calvin Walker, and urban forestry and natural resources department chair Kamran Abdollahi. She gave special thanks to Phills, her first academic dean, for establishing the nation's first urban forestry degree granting program, and for investing in her professional growth.  Ning also recognized Butler for nominating her on behalf of the College of Agriculture and Southern University, and encouraging her to compete for the award.


"I am honored that the College of Agriculture and Southern University nominated me, the APLU national review panel selected me, and USDA NIFA presented me with the award. I am humbled by this award and profoundly appreciative of being recognized for doing what I love to do. I am grateful to all of my students who make me feel loved. I would like to share this award with SU administrators, colleagues and students. This award will further propel me to expand my efforts in teaching, research, and outreach", said Ning.


Throughout her career, Ning has obtained $20 million in competitive grants to support education, research, and student professional development. She has provided experiential learning opportunities for students, such as global competency study abroad, an absolutely life-changing experience for students. She has organized workshops, symposia, and forums to enhance education and research. She has led the first Gulf Coast regional climate change assessment and is highly regarded as an urban forestry expert at regional, national, and international levels. With 190 publications, she has integrated research into teaching, nurtured scientific curiosity, and motivated students to a new height.


Her leadership and collegiality spirit have made significant impacts at regional, national, and international levels through her service as the Society of American Foresters (SAF) Urban Forestry Working Group chair, SAF International Forestry Working Group chair, board of directors of the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA), president of the ISA Arboriculture Research and Education Academy, and associate editor of the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry.


Her exemplary achievements have earned her James and Ruth Smith Endowed Professor Award from SU System, SU System Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, SU System Chancellor's Award for Most Outstanding Researcher, College Faculty Excellence in Research Awards, and awards from Louisiana State Governor, SAF, and ISA.

Ning is a member of the State of Louisiana Board of Regents of Higher Education Master Plan Research Advisory Committee Taskforce on Coastal and Water Management, board member of the Baton Rouge Botanical Garden Foundation, senator of SU Faculty Senate, and a member of the SU Strategic Planning Steering Committee.


For more information please contact Ning at or 225 771 6292.