MONTICELLO, AR — A two-year associate of applied science degree in forest technology has been added to the School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The degree was approved recently by the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees and the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The new program, which begins with the 2017 fall semester and requires four semesters plus an intersession and one summer term, is designed to allow students in the two-year program to transition seamlessly into the four-year bachelor of science in natural resource management degree if they choose.
The associate degree requires coursework in woods and field skills, tree identification, forest measurements, forest propagation and regeneration, forest fire-fighting, resource management and personnel supervision. Graduates of the forest technology program will be able to work with licensed foresters to inventory forests, identify forest health issues, supervise harvests, site preparation and tree planting, conduct prescribed burns, maintain boundary lines and apply GPS, GIS and surveying skills.
According to Dr. Phil Tappe, dean of the School of Forestry and Natural Resources and director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, the new degree program fills an immediate need in the forest industry. "We regularly monitor the employment needs of the Arkansas forest products industry," said Tappe. "Over the past two decades, the industry has faced unprecedented challenges and substantial change. Additionally, privately-owned forest land is prevalent in Arkansas, driving the need for a variety of forest management services. Surveys indicate a need for approximately 100 positions in Arkansas in the next three to five years with starting salaries ranging from $25,000 to $51,000 a year."
Tappe said the new associate of science program adds flexibility to the forestry and natural resources curriculum and provides the content required for forest technology accreditation by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). "One of the advantages of this program is that it not only provides a pathway to transition to a four-year baccalaureate degree, it gives students who begin in the four-year program an avenue to switch to the AAS degree track if their interests or circumstances change," Tappe explained.
"This program is an important addition to the curriculum choices offered by the School of Forestry and Natural Resources," said Dr. Peggy Doss, vice chancellor for academic affairs. "Dr. Tappe and his faculty have developed a program that will have a great deal of appeal to those who want a career in natural resource management but are not necessarily interested in a four-year degree."
For more information, contact the School of Forestry and Natural Resources at (870) 460-1052.
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