STILLWATER, Okla. – Since 1988 The Society of American Foresters has presented the Carl Alwin Schenck Teaching Award to individuals to recognize outstanding performance in the field of forestry education.
The professional society for foresters throughout the United States reviews applications from the 50 accredited programs for the teaching award and recognizes the one each year who most exemplifies the founder of the Biltmore Forestry School, the country’s first forestry school, Carl A. Schenck. Of the few recipients of this esteemed award, three of them have come from Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.
OSU is the only university to have won this award three times, all of which came from the department of natural resource ecology and management (NREM).
“This award recognizes an individual faculty member as an outstanding instructor. Having three faculty members win the Schenck Award shows that we have outstanding faculty and that NREM places a large emphasis on teaching forestry students,” said Keith Owens, NREM department head. “Collectively these award winners have taught at OSU for 98 years.”
Tom Hennessey, professor of forest physiology, was the most recent recipient as he won the 2011 award.
“A first quality in a professor, assuming technical competency, should be the ability to inspire in students a search for knowledge,” Hennessey said. “In my classes, I encourage students to engage in discussion to draw upon their own experiences, values, culture and interests as a basis for understanding new concepts. Through this process, students learn how to learn.”
Tom Kuzmic, professor and director of Forestry Summer Camp, received the award in 2004
“I have directed OSU’s Forestry Summer Camp for the past 33 years, taught in different natural settings around the country,” said Kuzmic. “As well, I have led study abroad trips to Honduras and Ecuador for the past 14 years, affording students an opportunity to experience a global perspective in natural resource use, values, and management, and to examine, appreciate and better understand the relationship between people, culture and nature in settings beyond our own borders.”
David Robinson, emeritus professor, was honored with this award in 1992.
“Dave was a top-notch educator who truly was in his element in the woods teaching students. He certainly was an inspiration and mentor to both me and to Tom Hennessey in our early years as forestry faculty members,” Kuzmic said. “He was our link to the tradition and solid foundation for forestry instruction at OSU, forged by our founding faculty back in the late 1940s.”
The faculty continues to place a high premium on creating and fostering quality field-based educational experiences for students at OSU.
“A common trait of these award winners is they really care that students understand forestry principles and can apply them,” Owens said. “One of their basic beliefs is that if a student is shown how a topic in classroom teaching can affect their life, then it becomes much more meaningful to them. Essentially they make the link between ‘book learning’ and the real world.”
Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating: The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.
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