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Links to our history and current news

History of the Department 1979-2008, written by Dr. Arthur W. Cooper
History of the Department 1929-1979, written by Dr. William D. Miller
Additional historical information about the link between CNR and the Mont Alto School of Forestry, written by Dr. Arthur W. Cooper
Latest News & Events

Our Beginnings

The Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources (FER) was founded in 1929 as NC State’s School of Forest Resources. Since its beginning, FER has grown steadily in scope and global reach to reflect evolving industry and environmental concerns. A review of its history reveals a timeline of breakthroughs in forestry and natural resource management, achieved by many of the industry’s most respected academic and research leaders.

Originally established in 1929 to aid North Carolina’s forestry industry, NC State’s School of Forest Resources drew much of its founding faculty from the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy at Mont Alto, home to the nation’s first forestry school. When the Pennsylvania State Forest Academy at Mont Alto forestry program was eliminated several years later, NC State absorbed much of its faculty and students — making NC State heir to the oldest forestry program in the nation.

cnrfor75Initially, NC State focused on training students to grow, harvest and sell timber while seeking new ways to protect the state’s forests against such threats as fires and pests. The School of Forest Resources quickly began to acquire tracts of forest land to provide hands-on training to students and to work with industry in pursuing new techniques in breeding, harvesting and land management.

An Expanding Focus

In 1950, the School of Forest Resources was elevated from a division of NC State to an official school. Its focus expanded rapidly in subsequent decades, keeping pace with forestry industry developments.

A number of joint degree programs sponsored in conjunction with other NC State colleges were added to the school’s academic offerings, allowing students to explore emerging fields in forestry sciences, wildlife management and the new area of natural resource management.

Industry and government partnerships and extension efforts also grew as the benefits of putting faculty and students on the frontline of the industry became more and more obvious.

Enrollment within FER kept pace and rose dramatically, the number of endowments grew and expanded its ability to fund activities and the long list of NC State alumni leading related industries began to be noticed worldwide.

In the 70’s and 80’s, FER’s international reputation spread as new partnerships were forged on new continents. Environmental concerns took hold worldwide and FER added natural resource management as a primary area of focus.

The list of FER’s contributions to forestry also began to draw international attention and would eventually come to include such accomplishments as enhancing the productivity and hardiness of critical commercial tree species, pioneering silvicultural techniques to enhance forest productivity, increasing seed production, charting major advances in understanding genetic variations in
species, developing more efficient and cost-effective breeding strategies for forest trees, integrating new biotechnologies into conventional breeding strategies and creating a library of hundreds of key scientific articles that shared the knowledge FER faculty had uncovered.

In the early 90’s FER added the restoration of ecosystems to its responsibilities, mounting efforts to identify challenges, repair damages caused by humans or natural disasters and integrate ecological restoration practices with economic and cultural practices. Technological advances in the 90’s also fueled new research initiatives built around genetic engineering and other state-of-the-art techniques that had made a whole new level of discovery possible.

FER Today

earth_observationAs the 21st Century dawned, it became apparent that FER’s continuing focus on the practical education of its students had created a unique school of forestry and environmental resource management — one where students, teachers, researchers and outside partners can work together in a results-oriented environment right on the frontline of rapidly-changing fields. This approach has made it possible not only to produce well-trained graduates ready to take advantage of the best job opportunities available each year, it has also allowed FER to continue to adapt quickly to new developments in forestry and environmental resources, often leading the way toward the future. Keep current on the latest by visiting News & Events on a regular basis. You can have the latest news delivered for free to your reader or inbox.