GAINESVILLE, Fla. — When the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC) holds its annual Spring Celebration, there’s plenty of focus on the School’s storied past, but the event also salutes current students, their achievements and future aspirations, said Tim White, SFRC director and a professor with the School, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
The two-day event, scheduled for April 10-11, is part social gathering and part scientific symposium, welcoming all SFRC personnel, students and alumni, supporters and friends, he said. All three of SFRC’s academic divisions take part in the Celebration – Forest Resources and Conservation; Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, and Geomatics, which includes surveying, map making and other disciplines involving geographic information.
“This is our one opportunity each year to bring together everyone connected with the School,” White said. “Spring Celebration is supposed to be inclusive, so we try to offer something for everybody.”
Events this year include a barbecue, 5K run, trap and skeet shooting competition, displays and demonstrations, and an awards ceremony for students and alumni, he said. Much of the activity will take place at the school’s new Austin Cary Learning Center, dedicated in April 2014.
For more information and to register for events, visit http://sfrc.ufl.edu/about/events/sc/.
One highlight of the Celebration is the graduate student symposium, which will be held Friday, April 10 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the learning center, said Micheal Allen, SFRC associate director and a professor in the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Program.
The graduate student research symposium will include about two dozen presentations and more than 40 research posters will be on display, he said. Topics will include new technologies for gathering and analyzing spatial data, developments in fish and clam aquaculture, fire ecology and environmental education.
“I always enjoy seeing the research from Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences as well as the rest of the School,” Allen said. “The quality of our students is always evident.”
Organizers make a point to invite personnel from state agencies that frequently interface with SFRC faculty; this helps students network with potential employers, he said.
Networking opportunities also abound at the social gatherings Friday and Saturday evenings, where students can mingle with alumni who share the same interests and may one day be interviewing them for jobs, said Bon Dewitt, an SFRC associate professor in photogrammetry and remote sensing.
“Opportunities for our graduates are definitely becoming more plentiful,” Dewitt said. “Probably every other day I’m getting an e-mail from someone, usually an alumnus, who has a job opening or an internship they’re looking to fill.”
He said that SFRC alumni are eager to hire recent graduates because they’re likely to perform well on the job.
“Our alumni know how good the instruction and training are, and they know the quality of the graduates that come out of our program,” Dewitt said. “I’m sure that’s true across the board for SFRC – all of the programs here are recognized as some of the best in the country.”
Of course, for many alumni and others with longtime connections to the school, the most enjoyable aspect of Spring Celebration is the chance to reconnect with old friends, said Jack Breed, a 1982 graduate who’s now vice president of the surveying firm CivilSurv Design Group, Inc., based in Lakeland.
“It’s a great tradition,” said Breed, who’s also an adjunct instructor at SFRC and has attended almost every Spring Celebration and surveying alumni get-together since leaving UF. “The Austin Cary Forest is a beautiful place to be in the spring, and it’s the perfect location for this event.”
By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, email@example.com
Sources: Tim White, 352-846-0850, firstname.lastname@example.org
Micheal Allen, 352-273-3624, email@example.com
Bon Dewitt, 352-392-6010, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jack Breed, 863-646-4771, email@example.com