As a land-grant institution, West Virginia University is dedicated to bringing higher education to the masses. A team of forestry educators will extend that mission to an all-female correctional facility on August 7.

Faculty from WVU’s Division of Forestry and Natural Resources will travel to the Lakin Correctional Center in West Columbia, W.Va. It’s the first step in a program faculty are calling Secure Our Future with Education and Training.

“The program is intended to offer both college students and female prison inmates accredited education, job-related training, and engagement in our research,” said Jingjing Liang, an assistant professor of forest ecology and coordinator of the program.

The program will begin with a three-hour workshop at the center on August 7 where forestry faculty will cover the basics of forest ecology, dendrology, silviculture, and forest entomology. Liang will be joined by colleagues David McGill, Gregory Dahle, Jim Rentch, emeritus professor Ray Hicks, Robert Barricelli, graduate student James Watson, and Patrick Tobin of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

After the workshop, participants will be given reading assignments, including a forest ecology textbook and a tree identification guide written by Liang and Watson. Later, inmates will take an examination based on the workshop and reading.
Successful participants will get continuing forestry education credits from the Society of American Foresters, and eligible participants will also participate in the Stand Initiation Diversity Experiment that Liang and his colleagues have established at the nearby state tree nursery.

“This program was conceived to help lower recidivism rates among parolees and to help inmates potentially become respected professionals in the region’s forestry industries, as well as introducing them to the benefits of higher education,” Liang said.
The training workshops will be offered twice a year, in spring and summer. For more information, contact Liang at 304-293-1577 or



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