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WFS senior Emily Thomas (right) also received the 2009 Gamma Signa Delta Outstaning Senior in Agriculture Award

WFS senior Emily Thomas (right) also received the 2009 Gamma Signa Delta Outstaning Senior in Agriculture Award


Emily Thomas Receives Rapp Prize for Academic Excellence

Wildlife and Fisheries Science major Emily Thomas of Warren, Pennsylvania, is the recipient of the Orpha Kelly Rapp and Jesse Rossiter Rapp ’15 Prize for Academic Excellence. This award is made each spring to the senior in the School of Forest Resources with the highest grade point average. Elizabeth Rapp Tukey endowed the award in memory of her father Jesse Rossiter Rapp (Class of 1915) and mother Orpha Kelly Rapp.

Thomas completed an associate’s degree in Wildlife Technology at Penn State in 2007, and graduated this past spring with a B.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science, Wildlife option.

She has been employed as a seasonal biological science technician at the U.S. Forest Service Northeast Research Laboratory in Irvine, Pennsylvania, since summer 2005, working there with research wildlife biologist Dr. Scott Stoleson.

In May 2009 Thomas began collecting data for a master’s thesis, with Dr. Margaret Brittingham as her adviser. Her research will address the large- and small-scale effects of oil, gas, and mineral activity on forest songbirds in the Allegheny National Forest.

At Penn State DuBois, Thomas served as vice-president and president of the ECO Club, and also tutored students in wildlife, forestry, and chemistry courses. At Penn State University Park, Thomas was active in the Penn State Wildlife Society and was inducted into the Gamma Sigma Delta honor society of agriculture. This past spring, Thomas was honored with the 2009 Gamma Sigma Delta Outstanding Senior in Agriculture Award after a selection committee reviewed the academic records of all the seniors in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

In her spare time, Thomas enjoys snowboarding, riding motorcycles, hunting, and geocaching.

“I love that I live directly next to the Allegheny National Forest and try to take advantage of this privilege as much as I can,” said Thomas. “I also enjoy volunteering to band birds for the public at the Jamestown Audubon Society and for a local study on American kestrels.”

The Rapp Prize for Academic Excellence was first awarded in 1992. Thomas is the ninth Wildlife and Fisheries Science senior to receive the award. Seven Forest Science seniors and two Wood Products seniors have also been beneficiaries of the Rapp Prize.

Hands-on Learning

This past spring, 33 Forest Technology students from a course taught by Dr. Andrew Bartholomay (’04g) at Pennsylvania College of Technology surveyed three square miles of the Penn State Stone Valley Forest.

Survey objectives were to gather raw data pertaining to overwintering deer densities and deer browse impact on vegetation. Students worked in two-person crews, with each crew responsible for surveying 233 to 265 plots. Plots were laid out on one-mile-long transect lines that ran north to south. The students provided compasses, and Penn State’s Forestland Management Office provided GPS units pre-loaded with the plots as waypoints, detailed color paper maps, detailed color twig and bud ID guides, and data collection booklets. PSU Forestland Management Office staff and Dr. Bartholomay supervised the crews.

The project offered the opportunity for hands-on learning about sampling, cruising, and white-tailed deer, and the students professionally and efficiently completed the work faster than anticipated. Individuals interested in the raw or processed data can contact Brent Harding at

The PSU Forestland Management Office acknowledges Dr. Bartholomay, his students, forest resources extension educator David Jackson (’07g), and Pennsylvania Game Commission wildlife biologist Justin Vreeland (’02g) for their participation in this project.

Tau Phi Delta Honored

The Penn State fraternity and sorority community is comprised of 92 organizations.  Of this group, 51 are Interfraternity Council (IFC) fraternities. Each year, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life conducts a thorough annual review of each of these organizations. 

Tau Phi Delta was one of four IFC fraternities named as Chapter of Excellence at an awards ceremony on April 27, 2009. The Chapter of Excellence Award is presented to chapters that have surpassed the minimum expectations and have distinguished themselves in the areas of community service, philanthropy, and educational programming.

Tau Phi Delta also received the Distinguished Community Service Award. Most significantly, Tau Phi Delta was also recognized as the Most Outstanding IFC Fraternity of the Year!


Spring 2009 Commencement


Forest Science
Michael Bosold, Kevin Cook, Jeremy Ernst, Aaron Gillung, Christopher McClelland, John Murdock, Samuel Scavo, Erin Stewart, Travis Weinzierl, Glenn Werner, Brian Williamson

Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Aaron Barkdoll, William Brown, Lauren Cipressi, Rachel Cleaver, Robin Heagy, Daniel Hontz, Aaron Kaiser, Micah Lehman, Andrew Meyer, Peter Mohn, David Nihart, Wes Reichard, Lauren Rowe, Emily Schneider, Brandon Shihinski, Alex Stewart, Erica Stuber, Heather Szalkowski, Emily Thomas, Kevin Yoder, Melody Young

Wood Products
Nathan Beary, Brett Diehl, Nathaniel Elser


Forest Resources
Philip Brumbaugh, M.F.R.

Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Howard Goldstein, M.S.; Aubrey Lashaway, M.S.; Rebecca Stewart, M.S.

Andrew Wilson, Ph.D