Shylee Head is the recipient of the first Foresters for the Future Scholarship.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division and the University of Arkansas at Monticello named Head the winner.
The scholarship provides $4,000 per semester, for four years, to an incoming freshman pursuing a forestry degree at UAM's College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.
Head, from Mena, is a member of the National Honor Society and National English Honor Society. She is also a member of the Mena High School band and jazz band, and has won multiple awards for her musical talents, according to the release.
Head has been an active member of her local FFA chapter throughout her high school career, including competing as a member of the nursery and landscape Career Development Event team which first introduced her to forestry.
"My adviser suggested I take his forestry class in order to help me understand the tree portion of my competition," Head said. "Now I am pursuing a degree in natural resource management in hopes of landing a job in timber management. I became so excited about my newfound passion. I would find myself purchasing books on the lives of trees and listening to podcasts and news reports. I enveloped myself in the world of trees."
Head will be a first-generation college student this fall at UAM. She hopes that taking this step for her future will inspire her younger brothers to pursue their passions.
"We're very pleased that this scholarship helps provide financial assistance to students like Shylee, who have demonstrated a great work ethic and a passion for studying and having a career in forestry," said Michael Blazier, dean of the UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.
Foresters for the Future Scholarship recipients will partake in a paid internship exploring the various sections of the forestry division annually through their college careers. The internship will allow them to experience the many career paths within forestry and strengthen their skill sets before they enter their respective fields.
"We hope to attract young leaders to forestry careers through the Foresters for the Future scholarship each year," said State Forester Joe Fox. "Shylee Head is an excellent example of a future leader in conservation. We are excited to partner with UAM to give her the tools to learn and grow into her career."
The scholarship program was established by Act 399 of the 2021 regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The underlying legislation, House Bill 1389, was sponsored by state Rep. Ken Bragg, R-Sheridan, and state Sen. Ben Gilmore, R-Crossett, and was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 17.
For details on the Arkansas Department of Agriculture, visit agriculture.arkansas.gov/.