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Current Student Success

Urban Forestry Department 2021 Update

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 RayHarold 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.

Faculty and Staff

The urban forestry faculty have recently won the following awards –

Urban Forestry Faculty received 7 grants/contracts totaling over $1.4 million during 2016-2017 Academic Year

  • Enhancing Urban Forestry Program at Southern University and A&M College. $72.200. USDA-FS, 6/20/2017-12/31/2018. Project Director: Yadong Qi
  • Enhancing National Minority Leadership Training in Urban and Community Forestry. $310,000. USDA-FS 3/28/2017-8/31/2020. Projector Directors: Bobby R. Phills and Yadong Qi
  • Enhancing Graduate Education and Research Productivity in Urban Forestry and Natural Resource Management at Southern University and A&M College. $176,245 USDA-NIFA-McIntire Stennis, 10/1/2017-9/3/2019. Project Director: Yadong Qi
  • Modeling Approaches to Climate Change and Natural Resource Education. 2017-2020. USDA-NIFA-CBGP $297,479. Project Director: Zhu Ning
  • Increasing Faculty Research Capacity in Climate Change and Ecosystem Sustainability. 2016-2017. NSF, $120,100. Principle Investigator: Zhu Ning.
  • Using Agriculture as a Fast Track Vehicle for Change through experiential Learning. $247,000. USDA-NIFA-CBGP, 02/15/17- 01/30/19. Project Director: Yemane Ghebreiyessus
  • The Wildland Urban Interface: Sustaining Healthy Southern Forest Ecosystems in a Changing Climate. $200,00Dr. 8/1/2016-9/30/2018. Project Director: Kamran Abdollahi
Highlights of Recent Urban Forestry Faculty Awards- 
  • 2017 - Dr. Yadong Qi received the “Morrison-Evans Outstanding Scientist Award” for 2017 from the Association of 1890 Research Directors’ (ARD) at its biennial symposium in Atlanta, Georgia, April 1 – 4, 2017. The award is the highest honor given to a scientist in the HBCU universities.
  • 2017- Dr. Zhu Ning received the “Alex L. Shigo Award for Excellence in Arboricultural Education”, 2017 Award of Distinction from International Society of Arboriculture.
  • 2016- Dr. Zhu Ning received “USDA Excellence in College and University Teaching Regional Award” for 2016. The award, which celebrates university faculty for their use of innovative teaching methods and service to students, was presented at the 129th APLU Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, Nov. 13, 2016.
  • 2015 - Zhu Ning received “SUBR Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence”
  • 2015- The Urban Forestry Program was awarded “the Most Productive Research Department” by the Southern University System.
  • 2014 - Dr. Yadong Qi was the recipient of the “Southern University System Researcher of the Year Award”, the highest research award from the SU system.
  • 2014- Dr. Yadong Qi was the recipient of the “SU Agricultural Research and Extension Center Most Outstanding Researcher Award”.
  • 2014 – Dr. Zhu Ning was the recipient of the “SUBR Most Outstanding Researcher Award
  • 2014 – Drs. Kamran Abdollahi and Zhu Ning received State of Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality Awards
Highlights of Recent Student Awards      

The urban forestry students have recently won the following distinctions-

  • Four Urban Forestry Undergraduate Students won the 2018 Louisianan Forestry Foundation Academic Scholarships
  • Four Urban Forestry Undergraduate students have been offered Internships by DAVEY TREE Company for summer 2018
  • Three Urban Forestry Undergraduate Students have been offered 2018 summer research internships through USDA_NIFA Sponsored EXPLORE Program at LSU
  • Most Urban Forestry Students have had at least one internship with USDA agencies, including FS, NRCS, APHIS, AMS, etc. through their 4 year college life.
  • Two Urban Forestry Graduate Students, Dora Sevor and Mitchell Provensal, won the 2018 Louisiana Nursery and Landscape Association Scholarship Awards
  • Urban Forestry Graduate student, Brittany Benjiman, won the 3rd place in research oral competition in ARD in 2017
  • Urban Forestry Graduate Student, Dora Sevor, won the 2018 AT&T STEM Scholarship through SU Foundation
  • Urban Forestry Graduate Student won the Baton Rouge Garden Club Award 2017 - Brittany Benjiman
  • Urban Forestry Undergraduate Student, Donnicha London, won the 2018 Louisiana Society of American Foresters Outstanding Student Award plus a job offer by USDA_FS
  • Two Urban Forestry Undergraduate Students, Tevin Hamilton and Kalaia Tripeaux, have been awarded the USDA-1890 Scholars since 2016 – Present
  • Urban Forestry Undergraduate Student D’Michael Lucas received 2017 Davey Tree Company Scholarship plus a job offer,
  • Three Urban Forestry Undergraduate Students, Donnicha London and Tyrus Georgetown and Oscar Paul, were awarded Thurgood Marshall Scholars 2016 – 2017
  • Four Urban Forestry Undergraduate Students were awarded as White House HBCU All Stars, Yosha Lain, 2017, Kalaia Tripeaux 2016, Sally Ross 2015, Robert Chambers 2014.
  • Urban Forestry Students were selected for ISA conference student ambassador 2017 - Josh Simon and for SAF Student Ambassador 2017 - Kalaia Tripeaux
  • Two Urban Forestry Undergraduates served as CAFCS Student Marshal -CAFCS, fall 2016 graduating class - Khadijah Neal; and fall 2017 graduating class - Yosha Lain
  • Two Undergraduates were selected to attend Penn State IRES project for summer research in Italy 2017- Josh Simon & Sally Ross
  • Urban Forestry Undergraduate won MAANRS 2016 essay contest 1st place winner - Josh Simon