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October 29, 2019
Land Trust Alliance, USDA Forest Service Partner to Introduce Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, announced today a partnership with the USDA Forest Service to introduce the Scholars for Conservation Leadership Program.

This career and leadership development program aims to expand opportunities for underrepresented minority students so they can more readily pursue careers in natural resource management and conservation. The 2019 pilot program benefits 10 undergraduate students from across the United States.

“We are proud to partner with the Land Trust Alliance on this innovative program to develop the next generation of conservation leaders. The Forest Service is committed to being inclusive as we bring communities together to answer the call of conservation,” said Vicki Christiansen, chief of the USDA Forest Service.

Students selected for the pilot program include: Austin Cary, a senior majoring in forestry management at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina; Pomaikai Cathcart, a senior majoring in agronomy at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado; Kierra Christie, a senior majoring in environmental technology and management at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina; Lillian Dinkins, a senior majoring in environmental science at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Papa Gueye, a senior majoring in agronomy at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida; Sarah Howdy, a senior majoring in environmental science at the University of Massachusetts in Boston; Princess Mutasa, a senior majoring in environmental technology and management at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jocelynn O’Neal Horton, a senior majoring in agriculture business at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; Jana Pruitt, a senior majoring in natural resource management at Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama; and Coria Richardson, a senior majoring in environmental engineering at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

These students, selected through a highly competitive process, came together at Rally 2019: The National Land Conservation Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. The annual conference, which concluded Oct. 19, advances best practices in conservation.

“These students are not only bright and accomplished – they are passionate,” said Jamey French, chair of the Land Trust Alliance board of directors. “They give us hope for the future.”

Dr. Zakiya Leggett, a professor at North Carolina State University in the College of Natural Resources, manages the program.

Out of the initial cohort, Dinkins was selected to participate in a paid, year-long fellowship with a land trust to gain on-the-job experience following graduation. For the program’s second year, a recruiting process will begin in November seeking 20 students. Selected students will receive a similar professional development experience at Rally 2020 in Portland, Oregon. At Rally 2020, at least one paid, year-long fellowship will be awarded. Interested students should visit landtrustalliance.org in November.

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents 1,000 member land trusts supported by more than 200,000 volunteers and 4.6 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.

About the USDA Forest Service

The mission of the USDA Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests, grasslands and watersheds 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 world-renowned forestry research and wildland fire management organizations. National forests and grasslands contribute more than $30 billion to the American economy annually and support nearly 360,000 jobs. These lands also provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities; approximately 60 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. https://www.fs.fed.us

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