A West Virginia University student earned a national honor in the form of a scholarship offered by the Society of American Foresters.

Daniel Walton is one of two the recipients of the Ben Meadows Natural Resource Scholarships for 2013.

Ben Meadows, for whom the scholarships are named, has been a purveyor of forestry and engineering field equipment for more than 50 years.

The $2,500 scholarships, one each for leadership and academic achievement, are awarded annually to students who are working toward a bachelor of arts or science degree in agroforestry, urban forestry, environmental studies, natural-resource management, natural-resource recreation, wildlife management, wood science, fisheries management, or related disciplines.

Walton, a senior from The Woodlands, Texas, and enrolled in WVU’s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, received the academic achievement scholarship.

Walton entered an environmental geology degree program at University of Pittsburgh, but left the university after finding the subject wasn’t to his liking. From an early age, he had heard about forestry from his great-grandfather who often talked about wanting to be a forester even though he was a chemist.

“I had always thought I’d like to be involved in environmental sciences, but it just didn’t click,” Walton said. “I knew my great granddad, and he was a cool guy, so forestry was always in the back of my mind. After I left Pitt, I went on a hike along the Appalachian Trail, and that got me thinking more directly about forests and forestry.”

In 2011, Walton enrolled in forestry classes at WVU.

“I didn’t know that forestry was going to be my thing until I got to WVU,” he said. “One of my first classes was forest ecology, and I did really well; I liked it. A lot of that was due to the professors – they were all fantastic. That drew me in and I got really engaged.”

Walton, now a senior, expects to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in forest resources management. Since enrolling in 2011, he has maintained a 4.0 grade point average.

Walton had two internships last summer. The first was as a plant physiology research assistant during WVU’s Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates, a program funded by the National Science Foundation. The second was a Pathways Internship at the US Forest Service’s Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry office in Morgantown, where Walton surveyed a variety of professions.

“I really liked it at the Forest Service and all of the people there. There are so many experts under one roof that you come in contact with so many different aspects of forestry. I’d like to work for the Forest Service one day, if that’s possible, or a state agency,” he said.

Walton is the secretary of WVU’s student chapter for the Society of American Foresters. Just after the fall term got underway this year, he and other members of the chapter held a barbecue to kick off the new school year and to encourage freshmen to become involved in chapter activities.

“We had a huge turnout – the biggest I’ve ever seen. It was really impressive. We did not have enough pizza. That’s a good sign,” Walton said.

On receiving the scholarship, Walton said the money came at a critical time for him.

“Other than being a lifesaver, it’s gratifying to be honored for academics – it’s very flattering to be commended in this way,” he said.

(From The Forestry Source, October 2013. (C) 2013, The Society of American Foresters)

-WVU-

sw/10/11/13

CONTACT: David Welsh, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design
304-293-2394, david.welsh@mail.wvu.edu

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