CLIFTON FORGE — Caroline Fitzgerald of Raphine says she’s never happier than when she’s enjoying the outdoors. The forestry program at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College suits her to a “T.”
The 21-year-old 2017 Rockbridge County High School graduate enrolled in the DSLCC Forest Management Technology program last fall.
Although she had been accepted into the DSLCC program before she graduated high school, she thought she should take a few general studies courses at a another community college, to see if forestry was really what she wanted to pursue. She soon discovered she didn’t really want to sit behind a desk.
“I love being outside, taking hikes and photographing landscapes and nature,” she said. Her favorite course at DSLCC is dendrology, the identification of trees.
Fitzgerald had some early exposure to the world of wood products: Her family owned and operated Fitzgerald Lumber in Rock-bridge County. She jokes that her first job was answering the phone at the lumber company as a three-year-old.
“People would call to ask about what lumber or mulch was available and I’d have to stop and ask my aunt,” Fitzgerald said.
Although DSLCC is closed because of the COVID-19 situation, Fitzgerald has been taking online classes in forest mensuration, forest mapping and urban forestry. She can’t wait to get back into the field.
She serves as secretary of the DSLCC Forestry Club and the DSLCC student chapter of the Society of American Foresters.
Fitzgerald had planned to compete on the DSLCC team — in the log roll contest — in the Mid-Atlantic Woodsman’s Meet that was supposed to be held earlier this month, but had to be cancelled.
Fitzgerald was notified recently that she has been awarded the Roger Latham Memorial Scholarship by the Appalachian Vegetation Management Association, a $1,000 grant to be used toward her tuition for the fall 2020 semester. She is scheduled to graduate with an associate’s degree from DSLCC in May of 2021.
The same association awarded a similar scholarship, worth $3,000, to Suzanne Ryan last year.
Ryan is a second-year DSLCC forestry student scheduled to graduate in May. Ryan, who already holds a bachelor’s degree, is considering a master’s degree program at Virginia Tech for her fall 2020 pursuit.
AVMA is an organization of utility companies that meet once a month to discuss topics relative to their sector, explains Scott Reigel, who heads the DSLCC forestry program. These companies deal in managing the vegetation health and risks along public service rights of way for the protections of those services.
The scholarships are presented to encourage and give support to natural resource students in the pursuit of a career that involves understanding, managing and treating the vegetative health and risks on these necessary public service routes within the Appalachian mountain range.
Competing for the scholarships this year were applicants from DSLCC, West Virginia University and Glenville State College.
“I’ll be using the scholarship toward my studies,” said Fitzgerald, the daughter of C.S. and Crystal Fitzgerald. “I hope to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a bachelor’s degree in forest resource management, and eventually work for the U.S. Forest Service or the Virginia Department of Forestry.”
For more information about the DSLCC Forest Management Program, contact Reigel at (540) 863-2894 or email email@example.com.
Caroline Fitzgerald of Raphine, a second-year student in the Forest Management Technology program at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, has been awarded the Roger Latham Memorial Scholarship, a $1,000 grant from the Appalachian Vegetation Management Association. Fitzgerald, 21, is a 2017 graduate of Rockbridge County High School. (Photo Courtesy DSLCC)
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