AMHERST, Mass. - The Stockbridge School of Agriculture at the University of Massachusetts is the first academic institution ever to receive the Award of Merit from the National Arborists Association (NAA), according to Cynthia Mills, executive vice president of the NAA. The award is the highest honor awarded by the NAA to an individual or organization that has "positively influenced the practice of arboriculture."
"This award is extremely important, especially since it comes from the leading professional organization in the field. Winning the NAA''s Award of Merit reaffirms our belief that we''re doing the job of training arboriculture professionals, and doing it right," says Robert G. Helgesen, dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources.
"Such recognition of the arboriculture program at the national level demonstrates the dedication of the Stockbridge faculty, past and present, and the excellence of the technical training and theoretical knowledge our graduates possess," says Nancy L. Garrabrants, director of the Stockbridge School and UMass alumna.
According to the NAA, the 82-year-old Stockbridge School has had an enormous impact on the industry nationwide, in part because it has sent thousands of graduates into the tree industry. Numerous Stockbridge graduates have held leadership roles in the industry and in professional organizations related to arboriculture.
"If there is an issue about trees in New England, you will usually find a Stockbridge graduate leading the debate," says NAA member Gary R. Mullane, a Stockbridge alumnus from Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Stockbridge School originally was part of the Massachusetts Agricultural College, where the first shade tree-care course offered in North America was taught in 1894. In 1946, "Mass Aggie" launched the Stockbridge tree-care program. Today, Stockbridge offers an associate''s degree in arboriculture within the College of Food and Natural Resources. Graduates of Stockbridge''s arboriculture and park management program may go on to complete bachelor''s, master''s or doctoral degrees in urban forestry at UMass. The Stockbridge School of Agriculture program is part of the New England Regional Student Program, which allows students from any state within New England to study arboriculture at UMass at a special tuition rate.