HUMPHREY – It’s “everything I can imagine and more!” This is how Katherine Allen described her first months as a student in a unique graduate certificate program in Waterfowl Habitat and Recreation Management.
Allen, who graduated from Louisiana State University in May, is one of four students who make up the first class of a program made possible through a partnership between the Five Oaks Ag Research and Education Center and two system entities of the University of Arkansas: Division of Agriculture and UA-Monticello.
Allen and his comrades were on hand on September 28 to meet with representatives from the wildlife, forestry and agriculture sectors, as well as board members and UA system administrators on a doors day. Open held at the Five Oaks Duck Lodge, where the program is hosted. The one-year certificate program runs from August to May.
Allen’s research involves setting up a methodology to determine seed yields in various wet soil units on the Five Oaks property.
“I’ve learned that there are many variables and factors that go into maintaining a healthy environment for our waterfowl and other species,” she said. “It has been really exciting to know the ins and outs of land management and how we as future environmentalists can help instill this perspective in others. “
Delanie Warren, who joined the program after graduating from Texas A&M, agreed with Allen.
“The graduate certificate program exceeded my expectations,” she said. “I love that we are in the woods every week learning new things about land management, learning new skills and getting our hands dirty. I think it’s very important to get that kind of exposure so that when we find a career in this field, we know the fieldwork aspect as well as the research.
“Seeing the huge flocks of waterfowl fly over and stop in the lands of Five Oaks is unreal and makes me excited for the season to come!” said Warren.
Brandon Bennett, who graduated from UAM in the spring, praised the program for empowering students to be “more hands-on, hands-on land managers.” This is what we learn and develop our skills towards… We learn them professionally from professionals who have done this their entire lives.
George Dunklin, owner and founder of Five Oaks, drew a parallel between his childhood and the learning going on today.
“I go back to my dad… and he planted conservation seeds in my head when I was 10 or 11,” Dunklin said. “He said ‘my son, we don’t own this land, we are just the keepers for this very short time that we are on this land.’
“I learned how important his words were,” he said. “This is what we want to convey to these young children who are going up. “
UAM Chancellor Peggy Doss described the program as “a truly excellent example of an innovative partnership between public and private entities. It is a partnership where common goals will be achieved and delivered to our students so that they can have a better life, great careers and give back to the earth, they will give back to conservation.
“This program will help employees in industries where there is an intersection between wildlife and hospitality sectors,” she said.
Douglas Osborne, UAM professor and program director, asked for continued industry support.
“My vision… is to build as many relationships as possible with agencies, organizations and external partners so that I can learn from you about the things that we are missing,” he said.
“My request is to help me understand some things that we can involve these students in during the year, so that we can better prepare them to apply for jobs in your agency. “
A GREAT FOUNDATION
Mark Cochran, recently retired Agriculture Division Chief, praised the quality of the first class students and the diversity of their backgrounds across the country.
He presented two projects that are part of an important habitat research carried out under the program. One is “an ecosystem inventory, looking at lowland hardwoods and environmental stresses and how they will be improved by the management we have,” he said. “The second thing concerns the use by mallard ducks of our lowland deciduous forest; looking at the migration, abundance and health of mallards.
“It’s a great foundation, but it’s just a start,” he said and urged the audience to “come back in five years” to see the progress.
Michael Blazier, dean of UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as director of the Arkansas Forest Resources Center for the Agriculture Division, said plans were underway for the future of the program.
“Thinking about the fact that eastern Arkansas is one of the best flyways in the world, when we look at factors in the forest that could compromise the health of this system, we make it a focal point and c ‘is what this partnership does, ”he said. . “We will be meeting again here early next week to brief the research team to start prioritizing for next year’s research funding.
“Look at the scale of this partnership and what it does, it’s good for our program as well as for our natural resources across the region,” said Blazier. “We’re in the perfect place to do this kind of work.