The Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries Program at Cleveland State Community College in Cleveland is the winner of the 2020 Community Colleges of Appalachia Instructional Program Award.
Nearly eight years ago, FWF Program Coordinator Robert Brewer joined the program and was tasked with growing the only program of its kind in the Tennessee Board of Regents system. What started as a program with only four students in 2013 has grown to nearly 70 students under Mr. Brewer’s leadership today.
“Our FWF program is not only one of the unique programs at Cleveland State, it is unique within the TBR system,” said Dr. Bill Seymour, Cleveland State Community College. “Our Wildlife Society is one of the very best in the Southeast Region among all colleges including large universities.”
Officials said, "Giving students the experience they need to continue their education at FWF programs at state or regional universities or enter the workforce, the Cleveland State FWF program is ultimately arming students with the skill sets necessary to preserve our natural resources for generations to come. Continually adding program specific courses and encouraging thousands of hours of community service over the years, the FWF program is leaving a footprint for other colleges to model in the future."
“I am very proud of everything we have accomplished in the FWF program, but I cannot take all the credit. Without our partnerships, this program would not be nearly as effective as it is,” said Mr. Brewer. “The students also play a huge role in the success of the program. Their enthusiasm and hard work make the instruction easy.”
Mr. Brewer is also the coordinator of the Greg A. Vital Center for Natural Resources and Conservation at Cleveland State.
"Upon the many programs FWF students at Cleveland State take part in each year, none is more powerful than the Student Wildlands Adventure Program (SWAP)," officials said.
SWAP, started in part by the college’s FWF program in 2017, allows for the exchange of student groups across the country to learn about resource management in environments and cultures different from their own.
The SWAP program recently won the “Gifford Pinchot Excellence in Interpretation and Conservation Education Award” for Region 3 of the U.S. Forest Service and was one of eight finalists for the national award. SWAP has grown to include colleges and universities spanning four states.
Mr. Brewer has been a faculty member (biology) with Cleveland State Community College since 2003, holding a bachelor’s and master’s of science degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in wildlife and fisheries science and ecology and evolutionary biology, respectively. Cleveland State Community College Dean of STEM and Advanced Technologies Karen Wyrick nominated the FWF program for this year’s award.
“There is no question that Robert Brewer is the catalyst behind this program,” added Dr. Seymour. “His passion and determination to teach others to preserve our natural resources ignites the same passion in our students.”