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U.S. Forest Service Announces Sustainability Science Fellowships

PHILADELPHIA, PA, March 9, 2012 - Six Philadelphia area students are the first recipients of the U.S. Forest Service’s Sustainability Science Fellowships, a program created in partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to provide $5,000 grants for research and science-delivery opportunities for students from diverse socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

The fellowship program is intended to promote environmental literacy and collaborative learning activities and increase the number of young scientists in the field, as well as promote new jobs and career opportunities for the community. 

The first group of fellowship recipients was announced on Friday at an event at the American Institute of Architects Building, where leadership from the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station commemorated the first anniversary of the Philadelphia Field Station. Leaders of the new field station thanked the city and state, the University of Pennsylvania, and partners in New Jersey and Delaware along with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for help with establishing the new field station. 

The Philadelphia Field Station will foster collaboration and generate science to sustain the health and diversity of natural systems and enhance community quality of life within the urban landscape in the Philadelphia metropolitan region, including counties in New Jersey and Delaware. In addition to investment in the Fellowship Program, the Philadelphia Field Station will establish a permanent network of sample points through which it will monitor the ecological impacts of the region’s Plant One Million campaign, and other tree planting and stewardship initiatives.

Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station, thanked the students for choosing to study urban natural resource stewardship.  “Trees and forests will sustain us if we learn how to sustain them,” Rains said. “The region’s forests face complex challenges, and while research may not resolve them today, we will most certainly resolve them if we work to recruit another generation of smart, passionate scientists.”

Fellowship award recipients and their projects include:

Delia J. Smith – Temple University Master/Landscape Architecture: Can Native Salt tolerant Plants Extend Rain Garden Functionality?

Anna Shipp – University of Pennsylvania Master of Environmental Studies: Perceptions about Trees and Green Space in South Philadelphia

Melanie Allen – University of Delaware Wildlife Conservation: Rapid Assessment of Forest Fragment Health in the Mid-Atlantic

Sherry L. Schweighardt – Temple University Ph.D. in Kinesiology and Applied Behavior Analysis: Can Physical Activity Promote Adolescents' Engagement with the Natural Environment?

Luis Ortiz – Widener University Bachelor of Environmental Science: How valuable are trees in your neighborhood? Will knowledge help change resident perceptions?

Shea A. Zwerver – University of Pennsylvania Master of Environmental Studies: What are young adults' perceptions of urban greening and how can positive values be fostered?

The U.S. Forest Service established the Philadelphia Field Station in March 2011 at the Philadelphia Flower Show, when the Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell formalized a partnership with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. 

Now more than 184 years old, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society continues in its mission to "motivate people to improve the quality of life and create a sense of community through horticulture."

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.