GLENVILLE, W.Va. — For half a century, Glenville State College has provided students of the institution’s renowned Forest Technology program with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed far beyond GSC’s campus.

“That’s what we pride ourself on,” said GSC Academic Laboratory Instructional Assistant Tom Snyder. “That’s been our reputation that when a Glenville graduate is out there, they are very qualified to step in with just minimal training to about any situation.”

The program’s 50th anniversary was celebrated this past weekend, with all 700 graduates invited back to campus for a reunion in the College’s Waco Center.

The celebration began with a social reception followed by a forest technology presentation by Dr. Darrell Dean, a former surveying professor at Glenville State, followed by a panel discussion, lunch and various other activities.

Glenville’s first group of forestry students were accepted in the fall of 1968 under the leadership of A.E. ‘Doc’ Grafton and Rick Sypolt. The program became well known for its rigorous curriculum, hands-on learning approach and well-prepared graduates, Snyder said.

“It started out with a two-year program and things went well with that, and they added some other classes,” he said. “Quick history, there was a two-plus-two program, and in the last several years, we came up with the four-year natural resource management degree, and within that there’s four different concentrations.”

Those concentrations include criminal justice, energy and land management, environmental science and land surveying in addition to forestry, he said.

GSC’s two-year Associate’s degree in Forest Technology program is the only one of its kind in the state. The program is accredited by the Society of American Foresters and is one of only 25 accredited programs in the country.

Upon graduating, forest technology students have various opportunities, ranging from forest technicians or forestry consultants to procurement foresters or urban foresters, and Snyder said he’s currently seeing those opportunities grow.

“The timber industry has been picking up. Prices are finally coming up again, and there are a lot of opportunities there,” he said. “There’s federal, there’s state jobs with the Department of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, Environmental Protection and State Parks, and then there’s private industry, the consulting forestry, so there’s a wide variety of opportunities out there.”

What gives Glenville’s graduates such a high success rate, is the amount of hands-on work they do while students in the classroom. Snyder said GSC has about 300 acres of “lab,” or forest, adjacent to the college, where the program’s students spend a significant amount of time during their two, or four, years at the institution.

“We can walk out the back door and we can be in lab,” he said. “We have a lecture for every class. We’ll talk about what we’re going to do, and then we go outside and do it.”

Each course’s lab work varies tremendously, based on what concentration of the program students are studying.

“It can be from measuring tree diameters, tree heights and tree identification. We also have a timber harvesting class, which is cutting timber,” he said. “We instruct the students on how to safety use chainsaws. We have two dozers and a skitter that we instruct the students on how to use properly.”

To learn more about Glenville State College’s Forest Technology program, click here.

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