press release - Tree Campus.Sustainable Forest Technology

Public Relations | Press Releases

 

Release date 04-25-14

 

KVCC announces plans to become Maine’s first “Tree Campus” as development of Sustainable Forest Technology program begins

 

Fairfield, ME – Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) today announced plans to become Maine’s first official “Tree Campus” as the College begins exploring creation of a sustainable forest technology program.

 

The announcement was made on Arbor Day by KVCC President Dr. Richard Hopper during the first stakeholder meeting of educators, foresters, and industry representatives brought together to discuss options for developing a forest technology program with a focus on traditional timber-frame construction at KVCC.

 

KVCC’s interest in sustainable forestry education is being driven by multiple factors including demand from industry, the College’s acquisition of hundreds of acres of forested land in Hinckley in 2012, and its success in sustainable agriculture and energy programs.

 

Based on that interest, KVCC applied for and won a grant from Maine Timberlands Charitable Trust to investigate the possibility of creating an academic program in sustainable forest technology at the College.

 

The idea of becoming a “Tree Campus” was something proposed by KVCC’s sustainable agriculture instructor, Jacob Holzberg-Pill, as the College began investigating forestry options on its two campuses.

 

“The model that we are moving toward is more of an urban forest model,” Holzberg-Pill said. “There are a lot of different ways we can increase the tree canopy of our campus outside of the forest, especially the parts of the campus that have been maintained as lawns. There’s really an opportunity to add a lot more trees, and one nice thing about that is the accessibility and the community involvement – there’s a lot of educational value.”

 

The Tree Campus USA® program is supported by the Arbor Day Foundation and helps colleges and universities around the country establish and sustain healthy community forests.

 

The process of being awarded “Tree Campus” status involves five main steps:

 

▪ Establishing a campus tree advisory committee.

▪ Creating a campus tree care plan.

▪ Implementing a campus tree program with dedicated annual expenditures.

▪ Establishing an annual Arbor Day observance.

▪ Establishing service learning projects related to tree care and management.

 

The service learning component of the process would fit well with KVCC’s plans to establish a Family Laboratory and Nature Exploration Center as part of its Early Childhood Education program. The center will be located on the College’s new Alfond Campus in Hinckley, where KVCC now has 600 acres of land, the majority of which is forest and fields.

 

KVCC will apply for Tree Campus designation by Dec. 31 of this year.

 

Meanwhile, discussion at the meeting among stakeholders centered on how best to develop an academic program that combines the study of sustainable forestry with skills necessary for timber-frame construction into one program.

 

Timber-frame construction and the art of joinery - joining together pieces of wood to produce more complex items – are skills not currently taught at any community college in Maine.

 

Timber-framing is an age-old method of building that connects and gives strength to the beams of an all wooden frame by using joints including mortises and tenons, dovetails, and scarf joints held in place by hardwood pegs and wedges instead of steel plates, and hardware. It was a very common method of building on many early American homesteads, and its durability and aesthetic appeal have led to a viable niche market for modern builders.

 

It has been more than a decade since KVCC offered a carpentry program of any kind, and entering timber-frame construction education offers the College an ideal way to create a unique program with a strong forestry connection that capitalizes on Maine’s timber assets and many of the resources KVCC already has, including its many courses and programs in trades and technology, business, renewable energy systems, computer-aided design, and sustainable agriculture.

 

Such a program also dovetails with a shift at KVCC toward programs with a strong entrepreneurial focus.

 

The main investment required to create the program would be establishing a joinery lab at the College, but the costs of doing so could be offset by the many business and industry courses that could be offered at such a unique facility, Dr. Hopper said.

 

The next step in the feasibility study for the program will be to meet with experts in the timber-frame construction business to discuss needs of the program and assess the demand for workers with timber-frame skills.

 

Additional grant funding for the program is also being sought.

 

The program study and grant are being overseen by Katherine Cresswell, project manager for the Sustainable Forestry Grant, who organized Friday’s meeting.

 

This fall KVCC will open its new 600-acre Harold Alfond Campus in Hinckley with state-of-the-art learning facilities in beautiful surroundings. The addition of this second campus located seven miles north of KVCC’s Fairfield campus will open up many new opportunities for students.

 

Plans for the Alfond Campus are ambitious as KVCC seeks to develop it as a hub of academic programs in sustainable agriculture, culinary arts, forestry, business, liberal studies, mental health, and early childhood education. This development and shift of many programs to the new campus means the campus in Fairfield will have more breathing room for other popular programs in technical trades and health professions.

 

KVCC is one of seven community colleges in Maine that operate under the authority of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. KVCC is a public, non-profit, post-secondary institution supported in part by State legislative appropriations and federal funds.

 

The College offers more than 35 programs of study ranging from two-year associate degrees to certificates, as well as a comprehensive schedule of continuing education courses and business and industry outreach programs.

 

Registration for the summer and fall semesters at KVCC is now open to all students. Students with registration questions should contact the Academic Affairs Office at 453-5822.

 

For more information on KVCC go to www.kvcc.me.edu.

 

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