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UMFK forest technology program granted continued recognition by Society of American Foresters

April 9, 2004

NR04072

The forest technology associate degree program at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, one of only two such programs in New England recognized by the Society of American Foresters, has earned continued recognition through 2008 by that national scientific and educational organization, which represents the forestry profession in the United States.

In a recent letter to UMFK's vice president for academic affairs, Michael Goergen, Jr., executive vice president and CEO of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) acknowledged UMFK's continued dedication to excellence in forest technician education and informed the campus that the initial SAF recognition granted in 1998 will be extended through December 31, 2008.

"Our continued recognition is the direct result of the dedication and hard work of Jeff Dubis and the forestry faculty. Our goal always has been to provide the best possible education and field experience in forestry. I am very proud of our graduates who continue to distinguish themselves through their work ethic and professionalism," said Dave Hobbins, professor of forestry and environmental studies.

The positive findings and continued affirmation of UMFK's forest technology program by SAF are based upon a review of the program's interim status report submitted by forestry faculty in June of 2003.

"The forestry faculty has placed a great deal of time and effort into continually updating and improving the forestry program. SAF's support of the interim status report proves to us that all of our work has paid off," said Jeff Dubis, assistant professor of forestry and forest technology program coordinator.

Specifically, the summary findings by the SAF cite several positive developments in the program over the past several years, including an increase in the total contact and credit hours required by students for successful completion of the program.

Information technology and other related additions to UMFK's forest technology offerings were also noted as significant advances that enhance the quality of education students in the program receive.

Recent renovation of the primary forestry lab classroom and adjacent computer lab facility in Cyr Hall, which has been dedicated to forestry and GIS (Geographic Information System) students and has received computer upgrades and additional state-of-the-art multi-media instructional equipment, was highlighted in the SAF review.

In addition, recent grant-funded purchases of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) units and associated software have increased the programs GPS and GIS instructional capability and flexibility according to the report summary.

Since initial recognition in 1998, nearly 200 forestry-related books, federal research documents, videos, and state documents have been added to the UMFK library.

UMFK's forest technology program was also acknowledged for its ability to provide a top quality hands-on learning experience for its students with "convenient and ample" access to field lab sites within close proximity to the campus.

In recent years, an additional 500 acres of forestland for laboratory exercises has been made available for use by students through agreements with three new landowners.

"Assured access to local private woodlots is absolutely essential to the success of our program. Without access, it would be very difficult for our students to receive the necessary field training that is the cornerstone of our program," said Dubis.

"Landowner support and cooperation has been the cornerstone of our field experience since 1986. Hopefully, this is just another example of how the University and St. John Valley residents benefit from each other," added Hobbins.

The SAF continued recognition of the UMFK's dedication to excellence in forest technician education will mean acknowledgement and publicity for the program. Society publications and contacts with prospective students seeking guidance in selecting qualified schools and programs will include information about UMFK's forestry program.

Founded in 1900, the Society of American Foresters is the largest professional society for foresters in the world.

The mission of the SAF is to advance the science, education, technology, and practice of forestry; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and, to use the knowledge, skills, and conservation ethic of the profession to ensure the continued health and use of forest ecosystems and the present and future availability of forest resources to benefit society.

SAF is a nonprofit organization. Members include natural resource professionals in public and private settings, researchers, CEOs, administrators, educators, and students.