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UW-River Falls opens new Ecological Restoration Institute

Wisconsin State Farmer
The University of Wisconsin-River Falls opened the new Ecological Restoration Institute recently as a way to teach students the skills of natural resources management. Among the offerings is a chainsaw safety class.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls is opening their new earth science facility, the Ecological Restoration Institute.

Part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, the facility was built to support students in gaining new natural resource management skills with hands-on training and certification courses through restoration projects.

"We are incredibly grateful for the vision and commitment of the donors in supporting the development of this cutting-edge institute that will provide high-impact experiences for students in conservation and environmental science and help them develop professionally," said Holly Dolliver, chair of the Plant and Earth Science Department.

A press release said the projects involved in the facility will help students become more "marketable" and improve their qualifications as they look for jobs in the natural resources field. The list of available courses is diverse, from boat safety training to tractor training and even a chainsaw safety class. Students can also learn about becoming a wildland firefighter.

One of the current facility projects involves maintaining the open field near the Institute, where students learn to restore native plants and manage them through herbicide applications, invasive species removal and other management tactics. The project is scheduled to involve students through the end of this school year and beyond. The university said all of this experience can be applied to future career paths.

"I’m excited to be joining UWRF and the Plant and Earth Science Department with this unique opportunity for their students," said Kelsey Cowart, project manager for the Ecological Restoration Institute. "The Ecological Restoration Institute is an incredible resource for students to jump start their careers. We are fortunate to offer this program and I look forward to collaborating with many students and faculty throughout the process."

ERI is funded through the Environmental Studies Opportunity Fund created by donors of the University Foundation. Students studying conservation and environmental science also receive scholarships from the fund.