The Arkansas Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division and the University of Arkansas at Monticello (UAM) have announced a new scholarship opportunity, Foresters for the Future. The scholarship will provide $4,000 per semester, for four years, to an incoming freshman pursuing a forestry degree at UAM’s College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources.

Applications will be accepted through June 15. Students interested in the scholarship can find more information HERE.

“Arkansas has nearly 19 million acres of forests with over 12 billion trees,” said State Forester Joe Fox. “This scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for a future forester to obtain a quality education and move into a dynamic and rewarding career field.”

The scholarship program was established by Act 399 of the 2021 Regular Session of the Arkansas General Assembly. The underlying legislation, House Bill 1389, was sponsored by state Rep. Ken Bragg and Sen. Ben Gilmore. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the legislation into law on March 17, 2021.

Bragg said the goal of Act 399 is to provide a sustainable supply of foresters in Arkansas.

“As the only professional forester in the Arkansas Legislature, I have had the privilege of representing several concerns that affect our forest industry,” Bragg said. “One of the current concerns is the shortage of students pursuing forestry degrees.”

The average age of foresters in 2020 was 47, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. UAM and the Forestry Division hope the scholarship will entice students to pursue forestry as a career. UAM expects to graduate 13 students with forestry degrees this year, their largest class of foresters in several years.

“Foresters play a pivotal role in the state’s economy, and UAM is proud to have trained so many alumni who excel in the profession nationwide,” said Dr. Peggy Doss, UAM chancellor. “The creation of this scholarship means it will be even more attractive and affordable for students to get connected to the forestry industry, particularly in Arkansas, where we hope to retain their vital skills to benefit the state.”

“For the last several years, retirements in the forestry profession have outpaced the recruitment and preparation of the next generation of forestry professionals. The Arkansas Foresters for the Future Scholarship provides more than just financial support for students pursuing their passion for a career that allows them to work outdoors and make a difference in how our future forests are managed,” said Dr. Robert Ficklin, interim dean and director of UAM College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources.