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Forest Ecosystem Management: Meet One Of Penn State’s Smallest Majors

It’s no secret Penn State is a big place. With more than 46,000 enrolled students and more than 160 majors, the university offers almost an endless array of topics in which students can study to prepare for their future. Obviously, some majors are more popular than others. In the fall of 2014, the College of Engineering alone had 10,455 students enrolled in its programs.

However, there is one major that remains close to the University’s heart. It also happens to be one of its smallest majors. Meet the Forest Ecosystem Management program in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Composed of roughly 50 students, it’s a small, but proud program at Penn State.

Penn State is known for its agricultural studies. In fact, the first seal of the university contained the inscription “Farmer’s High School.” Even the second seal of the university was inscribed with “Agricultural College of Pennsylvania.” In fact, “The Pennsylvania State University” didn’t appear on a seal until 1953.

The School of Forest Resources was established in 1907 in which students studied logging methods, forest surveying, and saw mill operations all while sleeping in tents during an eight week period in the summer. Today, the mission of the Forest Ecosystem Management major is to “help students develop the knowledge, skills, and professional ethics for understanding and managing forest ecosystems and living as responsible members of society.”

For a major unknown to so many people, it may be hard to translate what exactly a graduate can do with a Forest Ecosystem Management degree. Well, take Brian Crooks’ story, for example. According to a recent Penn State News profile, Crooks was able to study the effects of wild fires out west using his degree.  In the story, Crooks said, “I also was prepared by things I learned in my classes at Penn State.”

The goal of Crooks’ study was to gain fuel reports on the environment to see what would burn if there was a wildfire. With a major in Forest Ecosystem Management, Crooks was able to understand the effects of his research. “When you do something with forest science, the implications and repercussions of that are going to be around for a very long time,” Crooks told Penn State News. “So you need to think very long term about how your actions are going to impact the future.”

For students looking to broaden their horizons in the major, four options are offered: forest biology, forest management, community and urban forest management, and watershed management. These majors all lead to careers that help to preserve wildlife and forests across the world.

The College of Agricultural Sciences said the program’s small enrollment is beneficial to students, but it also hopes to grow the program in years to come.

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About the Author

Matt Coleman

Matt Coleman is a writer for Onward State. His hometown is North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, a little under an hour from Pittsburgh. He is a sophomore majoring in Natural Resource Engineering in Biological Engineering. Please e-mail questions and comments to [email protected] Also, follow him on Twitter @cole_man2.


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