New Degree Program: Natural Resources Management

The Presidents’ Council, State Universities of Michigan has approved Michigan Tech’s new Bachelor of Science degree in Natural Resources Management. The new program will start this fall.

“The value of this new undergraduate degree program in natural resources management is that it is interdisciplinary and thus complements our existing disciplinary programs in natural resources,” said Terry Sharik, dean of the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science. “Thus, rather than focusing on a single renewable resource, such as wood, wildlife, water or recreation, it will integrate across these resource areas and include the ecological, social and economic dimensions of natural resource or ecosystem management. It will complement our other degree programs as the graduates of this new program will be tasked with overseeing teams of specialists to work on complex issues related to natural resources and the environment. Another plus for the new degree program is it is likely to attract students who might not otherwise be attracted to our existing programs.

“We know from national data that such programs tend to attract a higher proportion of females and under-represented minorities than more traditional natural resource programs focused on single resources, and thus our new program should increase the overall diversity of our student body,” Sharik went on to say.

Article by Jennifer Donovan

James B. Pickens Retires

Jim Pickens
Jim, talking fishing at his retirement party.

Professor James B. (Jim) Pickens is retiring from the Michigan Tech School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science after 30 years of teaching,research, and service to the school. Jim wore many hats during his time with the School—teacher, storyteller, graduate program coordinator for the School, University Senator, and developer and manager of our very successful Master of Forestry program.

When asked to reflect on his career, Jim says, “It was a hoot publishing lots of very theoretical mathematics papers, especially in the first 15 years here.” Another highlight: receiving the Hardwood Research Award from the National Hardwood Research Council for his development of a hardwood log-bucker training program for implementation in the eastern US. This award is only given out once a year and may be the only industry-sponsored award in forestry and wood products. Jim says his greatest achievement was not a paper or training program—it was his students. He focuses on how rewarding it was to develop the Master of Forestry program and help 47 students earn master’s degrees in the past 10 years. “I worked them twice as hard and gave them half the credit, and those are both good things,” Jim says, chuckling.

Jim had the fortune of ending his teaching career with a particularly good Forest Resource Management class. “This was a group of phenomenal students who worked hard, thought clearly, and excelled. They are great students who also melded to form a great class; one doesn’t necessarily lead to the other.”

In retirement, Jim looks forward to spending more time with his spouse, dogs, gardens, and orchard. His other goal is to “personally meet every fish in Michigan and . . . Montana.”

Biltmore stick-fishing pole
Biltmore stick-fishing pole, a quirky, but fitting retirement gift from Blair Orr.