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UAM is taking applications for 4-year forestry scholarship

by Special to The Commercial | May 16, 2021 at 4:09 a.m.
A feller buncher operated by logging company LD Long Inc. cuts pines in a forest near Monticello in this September 2015 file photo. Economists said in 2015 that trees in Arkansas have been growing faster than they can be harvested.

A new scholarship opportunity, Foresters for the Future, is available at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

The scholarship will provide $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. The application deadline is June 15.

The Arkansas Department of Agriculture's Forestry Division and UAM announced the scholarship program Tuesday.

"Arkansas has nearly 19 million acres of forests with over 12 billion trees," State Forester Joe Fox said in the news release. "This scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for a future forester to obtain a quality education and move into a dynamic and rewarding career field."

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 Rep. Ken Bragg and Sen. Ben Gilmore and was signed into law by Gov. Asa Hutchinson on March 17.

"As the only professional forester in the Arkansas Legislature, I have had the privilege of representing several concerns that affect our forest industry," said Bragg. "One of the current concerns is the shortage of students pursuing forestry degrees."

"The goal of Act 399 is to provide a sustainable supply of foresters in Arkansas for an industry that is poised for growth," he said.

UAM and the Forestry Division hope the scholarship will entice students to pursue a forestry career. UAM expects to graduate 13 students with forestry degrees this year, its largest class of foresters in several years.

"Foresters play a pivotal role in the state's economy, and UAM is proud to have trained so many alumni who excel in the profession nationwide," said UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss. "The creation of this scholarship means it will be even more attractive and affordable for students to get connected to the forestry industry, particularly in Arkansas, where we hope to retain their vital skills to benefit the state."

The average age of foresters in 2020 was 47, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"For the last several years, retirements in the forestry profession have outpaced the recruitment and preparation of the next generation of forestry professionals," Robert Ficklin, interim dean and director of UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources. "The Arkansas Foresters for the Future Scholarship provides more than just financial support for students pursuing their passion for a career that allows them to work outdoors and make a difference in how our future forests are managed."

The application deadline is June 15. Details: https://www.uamont.edu/academics/CFANR/index.html.

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