The West Virginia Vegetation Management Association has long been a valued partner and supporter of the West Virginia University Division of Forestry and Natural Resources. Many WVU students have found their financial burdens lifted thanks to existing Association scholarships.
The Association has strengthened those ties through the creation of the West Virginia Vegetation Management Association Scholarship through the WVU Foundation, offering valuable support for WVU’s forestry and natural resources students.
“Vegetation control is big business, not just in West Virginia but worldwide,” said Mike Chedester, a member of the Association’s Board of Directors, a WVU graduate, and forestry supervisor for AEP Ohio. “We estimated in West Virginia alone, in 2012, just the electric utilities would spend roughly $35 million to keep the lights on from trees and other vegetation problems.
“We take for granted that the lights are coming on when we flip the switch and that the gas stove helps prepare a meal, or that we see the deer at the cleared road side avoiding collisions,” Chedester added. “Our group helps maintain the quality of life as we know and embrace it today.”
To do that, the Association relies on programs like those in WVU’s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources to train and educate industry-ready professionals.
“The Association’s desire to create the scholarship with WVU is a natural fit,” Chedester said. “We are deeply embedded in the state with the founders based in the utilities and the university. Several university faculty and alumni have sat on the board of directors and held office.”
WVU forestry faculty supported vegetation management research in its infancy. Several of these groundbreaking studies were led by Kenneth Carvell, a longtime WVU faculty member in forest ecology who retired in 1988, and were sponsored by national organizations such as the Edison Electric Institute. They have lead the path to development of further research and guidelines developed for best practices to maintain utility corridors from environmental, safety and financial perspectives.
“Our group’s footprint has been modeled in several states and remains one of the oldest and active in the United States,” Chedester said.
The Association already offers a scholarship in Carvell’s name. Recognizing the need for vegetation management professionals, Carvell guided over 300 WVU graduates into the industry. Today about 20% of WVU’s forestry and natural resources graduates find employment with utilities or associated businesses that control vegetation in some manner.
Many WVU students have already benefitted from the Association’s existing scholarships, the Dr. Kenneth Carvell Student Award and the Roger Latham Memorial Scholarship. Since 1995, some 35 students have received Association awards amounting to more than $55,000.
“The West Virginia Vegetation Management Association has been a very supportive partner over the years,” said Joseph McNeel, director of the WVU Division of Forestry and Natural Resources. “Mike has been personally involved with our courses and with students interested in vegetative management as a career path. This scholarship is an excellent example of how strong collaboration between industry and the University can help our students.”
This West Virginia Vegetation Management Association Scholarships will be available to students enrolled at WVU as pre-majors or majors in the Division of Forestry and Natural Resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. Recipients must be in good academic standing and demonstrate financial need. First preference shall be for students whose parents are employed in the utility industry or supporting businesses.
“This is exactly the kind of generous and sustained support that allows our students to pursue excellence while in school, and to be most excellent workers and thinkers and stewards of our natural resources when they graduate and enter key fields such as vegetation management and related areas of work,” said Daniel Robison, dean of the Davis College. “We are so grateful to the West Virginia Vegetation Management Association for their support.”
The scholarship endowment was created through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The campaign is a $750 million fundraising effort being conducted by the Foundation on behalf of the University.
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CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design