UTIA Establishes New School of Natural Resources

Category: Features

By Beth Hall Davis

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA) students working in a creek.

The first values listed in the Be One UT values are Bold and Impactful. No two words better describe the recent launch of the School of Natural Resources at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA). This most recent development converts the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries into UTIA’s first school, effective Jan. 1, 2023.

The school will continue to offer bachelor of science degrees and master of science degrees in forestry or wildlife and fisheries, a master’s program in forest business and a doctoral program in natural resources. School administrators are currently reviewing other programs of study to add.

The creation of the school will provide new opportunities and increased visibility for the great work students and faculty in these disciplines are doing, like that of Patrick Keyser, the director of the Center for Native Grasslands Management.

In fall 2022, Keyser and his team of extension specialists and researchers received a $30 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help grassland farmers enter the emerging carbon economy while enhancing operation resiliency and optimizing profitability, soil health and biodiversity. Even modest changes in management practices across large farm operations can have a tremendous impact on soil carbon, greenhouse gas emission and associated economic implications for producers.

Grasslands are the single largest agricultural land use in the U.S. and agriculture’s largest and most effective carbon-storage system. They naturally offer the greatest opportunity to make a strong, positive impact on agriculture and on the environment.

The research team is partnering with 28 entities across the southeastern U.S. to collaborate with 245 working farms. The project is one of 70 selected projects funded by USDA for climate-smart commodities and communities research.

Whether it’s changing the economy and the climate or changing the future for an individual student interested in disciplines like forestry or wildlife and fisheries, the Be One UT values are easy to spot at UTIA.