Cleveland State’s Student Wildlands Adventure Program (SWAP) was nominated for and recently won the southwest section (Region 3) of the U.S. Forest Service’s Gifford Pinchot Award for Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education. It is now a finalist for the national award to be presented at the National Association of Interpretation’s annual conference at the end of November.
“It is a great honor to be recognized for the work we are doing,” stated Robert Brewer, CSCC Associate Professor of Biology / Advisor for the CSCC Wildlife Society. “The partnership between The Greg A. Vital Center for Natural resources and Conservation and The U.S. Forest Service has been nothing short of amazing. I am very grateful and humbled by this recognition and hope we can continue to find support to continue the program in the future.”
The Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education Award is a national accolade given to Forest Service employees for achievement in environmental interpretation and conservation education.
The annual award is named in honor of the first Forest Service chief.
The SWAP program is a student exchange program that allows students to gain experience in other parts of the country at little or no expense to them. During last year’s SWAP, students from CSCC were able to travel to New Mexico to learn about and experience first-hand the ecosystems throughout Northern Mexico, and this year, the students from New Mexico came to Tennessee where they were able to experience Tennessee’s forests and water resources.
The SWAP program originated from an idea from CSCC Associate Professor Robert Brewer and Daryl Ratajczak, former TWRA Chief of Wildlife, now a Wildlife Biologist with the U.S. Forest Service in New Mexico.
“Programs such as this one are essential,” stated Former SWAP student Mariela Estrada. “Not only are they educational, but they are also a ton of fun! I had a great time, met wonderful people and learned so much. It wouldn’t be possible without Daryl Ratajczak and Robert Brewer and all of the generous supporters. Once I’m a professional, I can only hope to have the same impact on students as they have had on me and the rest of the SWAP squad.”
For more information on CSCC’s Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries program or the SWAP, contact Brewer at (423) 473-2342 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.