International Paper Funds Minority Scholarship at ESF
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Minority students who want to pursue the study of forestry have a new avenue available to them: a scholarship funded by International Paper Co. at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).
The establishment of the scholarship--a $20,000 gift to the college--coincides with the completion of International Paper's first century in business.
"Birthdays cause institutions as well as people to reflect. IP is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year," said Thomas C. Jorling, the former commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, who is now International Paper's vice president for environmental affairs.
Jorling and Thomas E. Amidon, a 1968 ESF alumnus who is a laboratory manager with International Paper, said minority groups are traditionally underrepresented in the field of forestry.
"It's terribly difficult to hire undergraduates who are members of minorities. It's difficult to find African-American candidates to interview," Amidon said. "IP needs employees who are part of a broader world. In forestry, the student population is not a reflection of the world at large."
Jorling said the scholarship, which is supported by all of International Paper's facilities in New York state could fund a student's four-year undergraduate career at ESF. He hopes that this support acts as a catalyst to bring more minorities into the field. Jorling said the company chose to establish the scholarship at ESF because of the college's international reputation in forestry.
"Every kid, at some point, wants to be a forest ranger," Jorling said. "Minority students want to enjoy the outdoors, they just don't have the support structure.
"Our effort to reach the goal of a more inclusive, more diverse workforce can only be met if the institutions that feed us reach and include a more diverse student body," he said.
College President Ross S. Whaley said the gift will enrich ESF's student body as well as increase the diversity of forestry professionals.
"This scholarship allows ESF to reach out in a new way to capable students who might otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue studies here," Whaley said. "A partnership of this sort between ESF and International Paper can only benefit the college, the company, and the forestry profession."
Since the college was founded in 1911, forestry has been one of the mainstays of ESF's broad variety of environmental programs. There are 100 undergraduate and 88 graduate students enrolled in the Faculty of Forestry. They have the option of taking specialized courses in recreation resources management, water resources management, or wood products.
The scholarship is the most recent link between the college and the company. International Paper regularly hires and recruits ESF graduates, including Amidon.
International Paper maintains about a dozen facilities in New York. The managers of those facilities dipped into their budgets to fund the gift to ESF.
International Paper employs about 450 foresters to manage the company's 6.3 million acres in the South and Northeast. Amidon said the company is the largest private landowner in the Adirondack Park, with 300,000 acres.
The foresters work in the field, assessing the health, productivity, and regeneration of the company-owned forests. They also help make decisions about what trees to harvest and how to replace them.