Stewardship, Education, and Reforestation Win the Day

January 11, 2023

New Mexico Highlands University’s Peggy De’Scoville was named forestry student of the year and Professor Joshua Sloan won recognition as forest manager of the year at the Southwest Section of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) annual gathering on Friday, October 28, 2022. The Southwest SAF presents its annual awards to those committed to educating the public and working in reforestation issues in the southwestern states.

Non-traditional forestry student Peggy De’Scoville was nominated by NMHU professors Jennifer Klutsch and Joshua Sloan for her civic service, her love of engaging young students in forestry and ecology, and her overall dedication to the field. Explaining that she came to NMHU a little later than most undergraduate students, De’Scoville says that she and her UNM-Taos transfer cohort coined the term “maximum engagement” to reflect their educational experience. “We give everything we have to this school, our education, and our forestry department,” she says, adding that her hard work has paid off well. De’Scoville plans to continue in research and hands-on forest management after graduating from Highlands in the spring of 2023.

The SAF awarded Professor Joshua Sloan for his leadership in forestry education and his ongoing efforts to address reforestation needs in the Southwest. Sloan accomplished this through his work with the New Mexico Reforestation Center, in which NMHU is a partner. He led efforts to found the department of forestry at Highlands ​starting in 2019 and became its ​first chair in 2020. Under his guidance, NMHU also hosts a chapter of the Southwestern SAF, allowing forestry students hands-on experience in forest management and conservation. Sloan stresses that ongoing education in this field is critical after the 2022 Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon wildfires, which destroyed nearly 342,000 acres of forest in Northern New Mexico. Sloan is actively involved in the area’s restoration work, which he says will involve one to five years just to mitigate the initial damage. “It will take decades for this region to recover,” says Sloan. “Most of us will not live to see the full restoration of the forest to the way we knew it.”

The Society of American Foresters was founded in 1910 in New York State under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture. Its continuing goal is to inform and involve the public regarding the importance of maintaining and protecting healthy woodlands.