CASNR Welcomes Commencement Speaker

Jerri Marr, B.S. in Forestry and Natural Resource Management (1992), will be the keynote speaker for the CASNR Spring Commencement this year.  Jerri has served in many positions and in various forests since her graduation, from public affairs specialist to forest supervisor.  She has recently been appointed the Assistant Director for Recreation for the USDA Forest Service in Washington D.C. In this capacity, she serves as an expert and program authority in the planning and coordination of outdoor recreation program policies and is responsible for providing technical leadership and guidance to the national recreation program. She previously served as the Forest Supervisor for the Pike and San Isabel National Forest Cimarron & Comanche National Grasslands, covering 3.5 million acres across Colorado and Kansas.

Jerri has represented the Institute of Agriculture throughout her life.  As a 4-H’er in her hometown of Memphis, Jerri visited the agricultural campus in Knoxville to participate in a state-wide competition.  While on campus, she met several faculty members who invited her to learn more about the college.  Soon she was offered a collegiate scholarship to study forestry in CASNR and quickly became a star student before starting a career with the Forest Service two weeks after graduation. In her spare time, Jerri is a motivational speaker, avid photographer, and enjoys traveling with her family and friends. 

You’re Out Of Your Country, Adam Willcox!

Adam Willcox started in January as the CASNR Student International Experiences Coordinator, taking over responsibilities from recently retired CASNR Study Abroad Coordinator, Dr. Dave Ostermeier.

Adam obtained his PhD in wildlife ecology and conservation with a minor in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida. Adam hopes to continue the positive momentum provided by the excellent work Dave and many highly motivated faculty, students, and administrators at CASNR and UTK had underway to increase both CASNR student participation and the number of study abroad opportunities offered by CASNR faculty.

Adam comes equipped with seven years of international experience in Central and East Africa as an agroforestry extension agent with the US Peace Corps and as a social scientist, project director, and outreach specialist with several wildlife conservation non-governmental organizations. He completed his MS in Conservation Biology at the University of Kent, UK, which gives him additional international academic perspective.

Currently, he has an active research program and offers a study abroad course in Belize as part of his appointment as a research assistant professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. Adam also has a passion for teaching, having instructed a course on international wildlife and forest conservation issues in his Fall 2014 UNHO101 Chancellor’s Honors Seminar titled “Who Speaks for the Trees.” 

In addition to continuing the momentum with CASNR study abroad, Adam will work with faculty and students to improve the Minor in International Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Director of Advising for CASNR Launches the Online Petition Process

When Brent Lamons, director of advising, joined CASNR in 2012, one of the things high on his list was finding a way to improve the petitions process. Petitions are filed by faculty advisors of students in the department seeking to have substitutions approved for various course requirements. Traditionally these have involved paper forms that wend their way slowly through the department, college, and university. Brent quickly decided that an online process would assist in tracking the efficiency of the petition process, efficiency of faculty time, document curriculum development and improvement, and enhance access to petition information for departments in general.

Currently, Animal Science and Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science are participating in beta testing the new online process. Faculty and staff have been highly impressed with how fast they were able to enter and submit petitions and appreciate the fact that they can track the progress and status of submitted petitions. Once the process has been fully evaluated by end users (faculty), it will be gradually extended to other departments in CASNR over the summer and fall. Faculty feedback has directly stated that, “this process should really help the curriculum development process.”