February 14, 2003
An agreement signed between the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the Oxford Hills Technical School in South Paris, will provide students in southwestern Maine, a seamless transition from high school into the only college or university forestry program in the state recognized by the Society of American Foresters.
Under the articulation agreement signed by UMFK President Richard Cost and Thomas Cope, director of the Oxford Hills Technical School, students attending the regional technology center will be able to earn college credits while in high school, enabling them to progress through their education faster and at less cost.
"This agreement is representative of a statewide effort led by the University of Maine System to create a 'seamless web' in the K through 16 education continuum. Our forestry program is nationally recognized for its excellence and through this agreement, we will facilitate the admission of Maine students who will provide the state's forest products industry with the educated workforce needed to support it in the future," said Cost.
Work on the cooperative initiative began last year on the UMFK campus as part of an effort to enhance visibility of the University beyond the St. John Valley and build the forest technology program.
According to officials at Oxford Hills, the agreement will have immediate benefits to students at the technical school.
Although the agreement focuses on only one course, forest practices, the intent of UMFK is to build on it and to articulate other courses as may be feasible in the future.
"Oxford Hills has a very strong forestry program. Developing this agreement will be beneficial in that it will enable us to increase enrollments in the forestry program by attracting well trained students from Oxford Hills. To date, these agreements have been successful in attracting students with solid forestry backgrounds. This agreement with Oxford Hills is the first with a high school in southern Maine, thus helping to further increase UMFK's exposure in the state," said Jeff Dubis, UMFK assistant professor of forestry and forest technology program coordinator.
The current initiative between UMFK and Oxford Hills reduces duplication of a student's effort and time, by allowing those who qualify to receive the applicable number of UMFK credits for the existing forest practices course at the technical school when they begin matriculation in UMFK's associate of science in forest technology program.
Both educational institutions plan to use the agreement as a vehicle to develop and disseminate career awareness and career education related to higher education and future employment to the students of Oxford Hills.
"One unique attribute that has developed as a result of this agreement with Oxford Hills is our interest in sharing curriculum. Lecture and laboratory materials that I have developed for the forest practices course have been made available to the forestry instructors at Oxford Hills to incorporate into their program as they see fit. Likewise, Al Scheaffer, a forestry instructor at Oxford Hills, has developed a very comprehensive manual on chainsaw safety and operation that will be made available to UMFK forestry students starting next fall. This arrangement will be very beneficial to the instructors and students in both programs," said Dubis.
The UMFK forestry program is conservation oriented and focuses on the wise use of the forest as an important renewable resource.
The most comprehensive forest technology associate degree program in Maine, it is attracting students from as far away as Oregon, Canada's Yukon Territory and even Argentina with courses that bring students out into the field for hands-on study and incorporate the use of latest state-of-the-art technology.
Those students are prepared for careers as forest technicians with private and government employers. These technicians provide skills in areas such as boundary surveying, forest inventory, and supervision of harvesting, thinning and planting crews.
Graduates of the program also have the option of continuing their education in four-year programs in forestry, environmental studies, or the biological sciences.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent is located in the heart of millions of acres of working forestland in Maine and New Brunswick.
The campus also recently entered into an articulation agreement with the University of New Brunswick that makes it very easy to transfer UMFK courses toward a bachelor of science degree in forestry at UNB. Faculty and staff are currently working on transfer agreements with several other four-year forestry programs in the northeast.