The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) welcomes two urban forestry summer interns to the agency’s Milwaukee office. The internship marks the beginning of a new collaborative program between the department, the USDA Forest Service and Southern University and A&M College, a public historically black land-grant university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The two inaugural interns, Odell Kimble and Kolin Bilbrew, are juniors majoring in forestry at Southern University, the first and only historically black land-grant university that offers a degree in urban forestry.
“We’re pleased to support the career development and education of these two forestry students and hope that this partnership program will be a continued opportunity for future students,” said Heather Berklund, DNR Chief State Forester. “This collaboration supports the shared goals of the DNR and the Forest Service to increase workforce development opportunities in urban forestry, with particular attention to underserved communities.”
They are currently working with the DNR’s urban forestry program for eight weeks between June and July 2022, with Kim Sebastian, Wisconsin DNR Southeast Urban Forestry Regional Coordinator and Dan Buckler, Wisconsin DNR Urban Forest Assessment Specialist. Their projects include assisting DNR staff with urban forest inventory work and helping plan an urban heat map.
When asked how he would rate his experience so far, Kolin Bilbrew gave it a “10/10” as he was “learning a lot of information I wouldn’t at home.”
Odell Kimble reflected that “It’s a great experience…Everything is positive, learning new things, meeting new people that we will probably end up working with and needing [to know] some point in our lives.”
When asked if he would recommend the program, Mr. Kimble said “I recommend it to other students who major in Urban Forestry to check it out, check out Milwaukee.”
Support for the two summer interns was provided by the USDA Forest Service through their partnership program “Educating the Next Generation of Leaders in Forestry, Environment, and Natural Resources” with Southern University, under the direction of Dr. Zhu Ning.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank Wisconsin DNR and Southern University for their efforts and commitment in making this internship program a reality,” said Beattra Wilson, Assistant Director for Urban & Community Forestry, USDA Forest Service State & Private Forestry. “This partnership between the Wisconsin DNR and Southern University reflects the USDA Forest Service’s mission to promote diversity and inclusion by creating a diverse workforce as we seek to grow the next generation of conservation stewards that reflect our society.”
Learn more about the partner groups here:
- Wisconsin DNR – Division of Forestry https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/forestry
- U.S. Forest Service – Urban and Community Forestry Program
- Southern University – Urban Forestry and Natural Resources https://www.subr.edu/subhome/urban-forestry-and-natural-resources