Ranger School Embarks on $6 Million Project
WANAKENA, N.Y. About a dozen shovels will bite into rocky Adirondack soil May 19, marking the start of a major capital improvement project at the Ranger School operated by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).
A groundbreaking ceremony, scheduled for 2 p.m. will bring ESF administrators and other dignitaries to the North Country to get the $6 million project under way.
The project, which marks the first major improvements to the school's main building since 1960, will include construction of a “smart classroom," a lecture hall equipped for distance learning, and enough new dormitory space to allow a total enrollment of 82 resident students.
“We're moving the facility to a new level. We're bringing in more technology," said Ranger School Director Christopher L. Westbrook. “We're creating more space so we can accommodate more students. We'll have space for workshops and conferences. We hope to use this facility more as a center for the Western Adirondacks, where people can meet and learn."
Both Westbrook and ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. are scheduled to speak during the ceremony. Also attending the groundbreaking are state Sen. Raymond A. Meier (R-47th) and Daniel Fitts, an ESF trustee who is also executive director of the Adirondack Park Agency.
Meier will also be the guest speaker at this year's Ranger School commencement, which will be held earlier in the day at nearby Clifton-Fine High School. Thirty-six students will receive associate's degrees in applied technology.
The Ranger School, established in 1912, is the oldest forest technology program in the United States. During its 89 years, the school has developed its own unique culture. Unless they are married or local residents, the students live in dorm rooms located in the same building where they attend classes. Most of the full-time faculty members live in houses on campus. The students do class work in the main building, and also work outside nearly every day on the 2,800-acre campus.
There are around 2,500 Ranger School alumni working in professions ranging from medicine to surveying.
Ranger School students spend their first year of college at another institution, then transfer to Wanakena as sophomores. They work intensely at the Ranger School, earning 48 college credits in just two semesters. They graduate with an associate's degree in applied science, in the field of forest technology. The school also offers a concentration in surveying.
Many graduates continue their education at ESF's main campus or other four-year institutions.