Accreditation Marks 85 years of Forestry Education at UM

Billings Area Highlights

UM News Service

Photo: UM Associate Professor Andrew Larson leads forestry students in an outdoor lab as part of a Forestry Field Skills class. This course introduces students to forestry field skills including orienteering, map reading, GPS, tree measurements, fire and fuels management, recreation, human dimensions, hydrology, wood products and the careers possible with a forestry degree.

MISSOULA – The University of Montana’s bachelor’s degree in forestry has been reaccredited by the Society of American Foresters, marking 85 years of UM delivering an exceptional, professional forestry education. UM’s forestry program was one of the first in the country to be accredited in 1935 and remains the only professionally accredited forestry degree in Montana.

“For more than a century, UM’s graduates have grown an international reputation for our forestry program,” said David Affleck, chair of the Department of Forest Management in UM’s W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. “Our reaccreditation signals to our students and to the profession that UM forestry students are well equipped to meet the demands of the field.”

To achieve reaccreditation, the program underwent a rigorous assessment by an outside team of educators and practicing foresters, in addition to a comprehensive review by the Society of American Foresters’ national Committee on Accreditation. UM’s forestry program had to demonstrate that it fully prepares graduates for the profession, is administered by faculty with diverse expertise and engages in continuous improvement through assessment and amendment.

Currently serving 120 students, UM’s forestry program teaches students how to promote, sustain and conserve forest resources, from water and wildlife to wood products. Students build expertise in the biological, physical, social and management sciences vital to the stewardship of forested landscapes by studying ecology, fire, silviculture, sustainable timber harvesting and many other topics. Students learn how to integrate these disciplines to manage forests for resources as diverse as wildlife habitat, wood products, recreation and terrestrial carbon.

The program emphasizes hands-on, experiential learning and students spend extensive time outdoors working on real-world projects, often in conjunction with partners in public and private forest management agencies. UM forestry alumni oversee forestlands across the country working as foresters, fire management officers, forest planners, timber managers, business owners and more.

“I am exceptionally proud of our forestry degree and the faculty that teach in this program,” said Tom DeLuca, FCFC dean. “Achieving SAF accreditation is valuable as a recruiting tool, is an enormous value to our forestry students when they enter the job market and serves as an affirmation of the enduring strength of our forestry degree program.”

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