A year of excellence

College of Forestry and Conservation  
University of Montana

We'd like to share some highlights from the year 2015-16 of our:

Successful students

World-class faculty

Science for conservation and

Inspiring private donors

How to view this report: use the Arrows at bottom right to get to the next slide or go back to previous slide. Click on Green Hyperlinked Text for more content on that topic.

Wildlife biology major Rennie Winkelman conducted research on the impact of wildfires on stream food webs and won an award for it at the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society annual meeting. Rennie was a Mortar Board Outstanding Senior and received scholarships from both CFC and UM. She graduated this spring and is off to grad school to continue her research on food webs.

Forestry students wrote management plans for the 3,500-acre Bandy Ranch for a fall class. This spring, timber harvest started on three units, implementing the forest restoration treatments students wrote. In all courses and majors, students gain hands-on experience in real-world settings. This past school year, students traveled nearly 30,000 miles around the state for class field trips and field courses in our CFC vehicle fleet.

This year undergraduate students Roberta Arnoux (resource conservation major) and Mateen Hessami (wildlife biology major) received scholarships from the American Indian College Fund. Hessami received a Building Sustainability Pathways fellowship to support undergraduate research on the Ya Ha Tinda elk herd in Alberta, Canada. Arnoux received a Building Sustainability Pathways internship. She will spend the summer designing urban forestry curricula for tribal schools.

Ecological restoration major Jesse Bunker won an award for best student project at the UM Conference on Undergraduate Research for his research on whitebark pine mortality in the alpine treeline. Resource Conservation major Hope Radford also received an award for her project on how small farmers are adapting to globalization in Latin America.

Graduate students Mike Schaedel, Kate Clyatt, Haley Wiggins and Justin Crotteau did research in their forest ecology class on tree mortality that was published in a peer-reviewed forestry journal. Other  CFC graduate student highlights include Megan Nasto, who got a fellowship from the National Science Foundation, Alex Barton, a 2016 Wyss Scholar, George Gaines, third place winner in UM's business start-up challenge, and Sophia Weinmann, a 2016 Fulbright recipient.

75 incoming UM freshmen spent three nights in the Montana wilderness rafting or backpacking through the Freshman Wilderness Experience, organized by the CFC Wilderness Institute and UM's Campus Recreation Outdoor Program. Watch this video about their journey. In 2015, the Wilderness & Civilization program celebrated its 40th anniversary - providing innovative wilderness education to undergraduates for four decades.

This year seven new faculty joined our team: Chad Bishop (director of Wildlife Biology), Brian Chaffin, Ben Colman, Phil Higuera, new Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation Joshua Millspaugh, Jenn Thomsen and Andrew Whiteley. Five faculty members received more than $1 million in funding from the Joint Fire Science Program. Also this year professor Beth Dodson and collaborators received $1.4 million from the USDA and DOE to study barriers to using biomass, Cory Cleveland received $784,000 from NSF to investigate how plants get nutrients from soil, Cara Nelson received a Fulbright Award to study forest restoration in Chile, and Nicky Phear was named the 2016 recipient of the Clean Energy & Empowerment Education Award.

Wildlife biology faculty members Gordon Luikart and Mike Schwartz (at USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station) were recognized as Highly Cited Researchers for their revolutionary work using DNA to conserve wildlife. UM and the Forest Service lead the nation in conservation genomics work and research by UM Wildlife Biology faculty like Andrew Whiteley, Winsor Lowe and Schwartz.

Professors Solomon Dobrowski and Brady Allred both received research awards from Google to use its Earth Engine for research projects. Dobrowski and his students (like Bridget Guilder, pictured) are estimating how land cover and climate is changing ecosystems across the globe. Allred assessed the impact and recovery of North American oil and gas development.


The Wildlife Biology Program is top ranked in the nation for the quality and the number of professors' research, publications and grant funding.

CFC's Human Dimensions Lab conducted a study with Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks to assess the public's view of elk management in the state; one finding is that the public is more accepting of elk management tools when public access for hunting is granted on private lands. Several CFC and Wildlife Biology faculty just published research showing that gravel-bed rivers are some of the most important ecosystems in North America.

Professor Kelsey Jencso, director of the Montana Climate Office and the state climatologist, is installing remote, wireless weather stations across the state this summer to help landowners get real-time access to weather and soil moisture data about their land. Also, researchers at the FireCenter are developing smartphone applications for data collection in the wildland fire environment. Research scientist Jim Riddering and others developed a fire weather calculator here at UM.


Thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor, the interpretive displays for the state of Montana's official arboretum - our entire campus - are getting an upgrade. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 2,300-tree forest. UM, with direction from arboretum committee chair professor John Goodburn, also developed a map of the trees that will go on the new campus app. In celebration of this important resource, please add your support for the arboretum.

Jack Ward Thomas, former chief of the USDA Forest Service and Boone and Crockett Professor of Wildlife Conservation for ten years, passed away earlier this year. Truly a "giant in the fields of wildlife biology, ecosystem management and public lands management and policy," Thomas received an honorary doctorate from UM this spring. He mentored graduate students and mesmerized students in his undergraduate classes with the real story of how conservation happened in North America from the perspective of someone who was there for many of the issues of the last half of the 20th century. You can contribute to the scholarship fund set up in his name.

John Fidler, a 1976 forestry grad, passed away this spring after 40 years of dedication to students through his involvement with the Forestry Club and Foresters' Ball.

At this year's 99th Ball, we honored John for his lifetime of contributions to students. Fid will continue to support students into the future with the endowed scholarship fund he established through an estate gift. His generous gift of more than $500,000 will support students like Kate Page, this year's recipient of the inaugural John Fidler Memorial Scholarship. Like Fid, Kate dedicates her time and service to student clubs and is Chief Push of the upcoming 100th Foresters' Ball (Feb.3-4, 2017). Fid had a special throne at the 99th Ball this year.

Helen Swan Bolle, wife of our former dean Arnold Bolle  passed away this spring. She and Arnold shared a love of the land and conservation and helped support the Bolle Center for People and Forests, a policy think tank here established in 1994 with a gift from the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation.

Helen visited us last year to bring some historical artifacts for the Bolle Center library and to share the news about her estate gift to support scholarships for student veterans. We appreciate the Bolle family's continued support of our college and programs. Helen is pictured here with her son Stan and her grandson Dave. Read more of Helen's story in this UM Foundation newsletter article and get more information on how to include CFC in your estate plans.


Thank you to all the donors and friends who help us thrive through your dedication of time and resources.


Earlier this spring, students shared their gratitude for receiving a CFC Scholarship

Join your fellow alums and current students at the 100th Foresters' Ball Feb. 3-4, 2017. A team of alumni is busy planning several events to celebrate this momentous anniversary, including a revival of convocation and a dinner for all alumni on Friday, Feb. 3.

Make your plans to attend - view the full list of events and

sign up to receive updates

You can also support a new 100th Foresters' Ball Scholarship

to support students into the next 100 years.

Interim Dean Mike Patterson | michael.patterson@umontana.edu



Stay in touch with us! connect@cfc.umt.edu