President's Message

Posted: October 7, 2017

Summer/Fall 2017, Issue No. 101

DaveGustafsonMy first days at Mont Alto Campus were filled with adjustment to many changes. I was a 5-hour drive away from home with no vehicle, I didn’t know anyone, and they told me I needed to sign up for an “e-mail account.”  I really had no idea what e-mail was. I had a word processor, not a computer. By the time I graduated, we were using GIS to map forest management projects. The chain and compass were relegated to the closet in the basement of the Ferguson Building.

“The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes” is a line from a mid-1990s country song entitled Time Marches On.  Indeed, time marches on.  We now have a new Forest Resources Building that houses what we once knew as the School of Forest Resources, and is now the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management.

By now you have received a postcard (hopefully) with information about our move toward using online communication. We hope to provide you with new communication via online content on the department’s website, and Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts -- all those things that have become the new normal in how people communicate these days.  But we aren’t proposing to completely let go of the old ways.  If you are interested in continuing to receive your information in print media, please let us know by giving your updated contact information to Ellen Manno (814-863-0362).

All of these things represent some pretty significant changes, and the Forest Resources Alumni Group is proposing to move forward in embracing the change.  At our April 2017 board meeting we unanimously approved changing our group’s name to Forest Resources and Ecosystem Science and Management Alumni Group.  We are already graduating students from the new department, and we want to be sure they feel included in our group going forward. But again, in recognition of the foundation of the group, we wanted to keep the “Forest Resources” part of the name intact. We ask the alumni who are receiving this newsletter to return a vote on this name change, as per the requirements of our Alumni Group constitution. 

Other changes have come in recent years as well. This is my 6th year on the board, and I have seen many faces come and go, but I am continually impressed at the dedication that each member shows to the projects and ideas that this board has undertaken. Under Steve Fairweather’s leadership we instituted the Alumni-Student Mentoring Program. The first year proved to be a learning experience for both the mentors and the students, and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being matched up with a bright and motivated young forester. I encourage anyone interested in this program to find out more.

I’d like to continue to build on some of the momentum that this board has enjoyed while Steve was our leader, and to do that we need your engagement. There are many ways to do that. One is by recognizing our Outstanding Alumni. If you know someone who has distinguished themselves and is deserving of recognition, please send us a nomination. Each year these folks are recognized at our April banquet, and for the past two years we have also had guest speakers who gave us some interesting presentations about current issues and developments in conservation. We plan to continue that at next April’s banquet.

Things definitely change, but some stay the same…like the great students coming out of Penn State’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management. Our alma mater is still graduating foresters, wildlife biologists, and other natural resource professionals. So I challenge all of my fellow alumni to embrace the change, stay connected, and provide the support to the conservation professionals of tomorrow like our predecessors did for us. The resource will be better off for it.

I hope to see you at our one of our upcoming events.

Dave Gustafson
2000 FORSC
717-787-2039 (office)

July 2017