December 16, 2019
Las Vegas, N.M. – The Society of American Foresters announced full accreditation for the New Mexico Highlands University forestry program through Dec. 31, 2029.
Highlands has the only accredited post-secondary forestry program in the state of New Mexico. Highlands offers a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry.
“Accreditation is inherently a mark of the quality of a program,” said Joshua Sloan, department chair for Natural Resources Management at Highlands. “The Society of American Foresters represents our entire profession and its accreditation process ensures that our program at Highlands meets the highest standards.”
Sloan, who is also a forestry professor at Highlands, said accreditation benefits forestry students in a number of ways.
“Employers of foresters always look for Society of American Foresters accreditation when hiring. Our graduates have knowledge and skills that are on par with, or better than, those of any forestry program in the nation,” Sloan said.
Sloan said graduating from a Society of American Foresters (SAF) program is also a mark of prestige. He said the accreditation process is rigorous, noting that Highlands worked on its 654-page accreditation document from 2016 to October 2019.
“The Society of American Foresters has six standards that cover every aspect of a forestry student’s education, including areas such as curriculum, fieldwork and faculty expertise,” Sloan said.
Sloan said he was both grateful and proud of the teamwork involved in the accreditation effort.
“This is truly an exciting time for forestry at Highlands. We couldn’t have achieved this forestry accreditation without everyone on campus doing a top-notch job, from our faculty colleagues, to students, the administration, and the campus community at large,” Sloan said.
In addition, Sloan said Highlands University’s close partnership with the New Mexico Forest and Watershed Restoration Institute, which is based at Highlands, and New Mexico State University’s Forestry Research Center greatly strengthens the forestry program at Highlands.
Sloan said the forestry program at Highlands is growing steadily.
“We jumped from 53 students in 2018 to 61 students in 2019. Highlands is the place to be in New Mexico if you aspire to a forestry career,” Sloan said.
Sloan said Highlands University’s forestry accreditation has statewide impact.
“This accreditation ensures the future of a forestry program in the state of New Mexico. Foresters graduating from this program will be responsible for the health of New Mexico forests for generations to come,” Sloan said.
According to the Society of American Foresters, programmatic accreditation allows an academic institution to demonstrate a commitment to quality and to ensure that its degree programs are performing at the level required by the profession they serve.