FRS hires three new forestry faculty members

measuring tape on forest ground

Three new faculty and staff members with solid foundations in applied forestry and silviculture joined the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship (FRS) Department this summer in new roles or as new additions.

Seth Ex, Wilfred Previant and Ethan Bucholz will be teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses that include the online Master of Natural Resource Stewardship and new Graduate Certificate in Advanced Silviculture for the Practicing Forester programs. Department Head Linda Nagel is looking forward to integrating their expertise and experience in the department.

“This depth of forest management and teaching experience will be instrumental in fulfilling the department’s commitment to teaching excellence, across all of our programs,” Nagel said. “I am particularly excited to work together on building and delivering high-impact experiential learning opportunities both online and in-person. Their passion for teaching and learning will undoubtedly inspire our students.”

The profession of forestry is a practice of patience and time in a new century very different from that which came before. While they learned the lessons of the past in their own education, these teachers are deeply rooted and invested in adapting to the future.

Seth Ex – Assistant Professor

A forester’s appreciation of change over time

In a capstone undergraduate course that Seth Ex has taught for several years, he takes students out to a revolving set of tree stands. They see what forests look like before, immediately following, and years after treatments have been done. While students connect the theories and knowledge they’ve learned throughout their academic training in real-time, Ex said this yearly snapshot has had a profound effect on him too.

“Actions that humans take have such long-term effects on organisms that live many human lifetimes,” he explained. “Having that depth of interaction in a forest gives you an immense appreciation of time.”

Depth and time have been equally important to Ex as a teacher. He has been an assistant professor in the FRS department since 2014, but his new role allows him to focus solely on teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses. He sees his position as a bridge between the theory and application of applied forestry.

CSU professor in forest

“The most valuable part of teaching for me is being here at this point in time to see students mature in their intellectual and professional capacities,” he said.

Helping students get where they want to go beyond the classroom has been Ex’s goal. His teaching philosophy has evolved over the years to achieve this. He said he originally focused on his role as a subject matter expert to provide the information and skills development students needed. Now he allows himself to go off script for a more flexible and dynamic classroom environment both on campus and online.

“Being able to change on the fly, reverse course and take advantage of teachable moments and learning opportunities have become essential,” he said.

Ex believes that having professionally accredited forestry degree programs at CSU signifies that as a professor, he is preparing students to make an immediate contribution to their field upon graduation. He said lively conversations that come out of online and campus classrooms can help those under his tutelage see how their own goals can expand and change over time.

Wilfred Previant – Assistant Professor

A model of life-long learning

One day in 2004, Wilfred Previant took a break while working in the Redwood forests outside Eureka, California. His back rested on the trunk of a giant living organism eight feet across. While winds blew in the canopy, Previant said he felt the tree move and the wood creak. He starting thinking about how many hundreds or thousands of years this had been happening.

“I can’t remember if I was sitting there for five minutes or five hours,” he reflected. “I was completely lost in the moment.”

Previant has always been comfortable in the outdoors. He was born into a ranching and logging family in British Columbia, Canada where he grew up without electricity or running water. He’s always been surrounded by parents, teachers and mentors who taught him how to be a land steward and then entrusted him to be one.

“I’ve had great teachers and mentors who provided me with the tools I needed and then trusted me to go forward,” Previant said. “I’ve seen success in how conveying a narrative to someone else also contributes to the perpetuation of natural resource stewardship as a whole.”

CSU professor in forest

Teaching in the FRS department won’t be new to Previant. In the past few years, he has taught undergraduate and graduate courses whilst working for the Colorado State Forest Service. His forestry narrative also includes expertise and experience from public and private forestry sectors across the nation, and having owned a forest management consulting firm. An interest in teaching comes from being a student himself, going through this process at all levels of scholarship and practice.

“Because my background is pretty diverse, I feel that I can help students find out where their talents and passions are and encourage them to find a good fit,” he said.

Previant wants to help undergraduate students understand why these fields chose them, and that it is normal to be outdoors working in a field born of passion and curiosity. At the graduate level, he looks forward to helping students and professionals “crack the safe” by introducing them to different perspectives and ecosystems in their fields. He knows this can expand their skill sets and help them tell the stories of land stewardship.

“I want them to be successful in their careers because it ensures that our natural resources will be well taken care of,” Previant said.

Ethan Bucholz – Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS)/Warner College of Natural Resources Academic Liaison and Experiential Learning Specialist

The ecological role of forestry
CSU professor

Landscapes in the Intermountain West are inspiring to many from the east, but Ethan Bucholz saw a flaw. In 2011, while working in Engelmann spruce stands in southern Colorado this Missouri native noticed something. The trees looked alive, but upon tapping on a tree trunk, large amounts of needles rained down.

“It was my first experience in the west seeing the impacts of climate change interacting with management changes of the last century,” Bucholz said. “It left a lasting impression on me that things are out of balance.”

That impression from the state’s spruce beetle epidemic led Bucholz to stay in the west and pursue an understanding of forest health. Upon completing his Ph.D. in Forest Science at Northern Arizona University this past spring, he moved into his new position at CSU as the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS)/Warner College of Natural Resources Academic Liaison and Experiential Learning Specialist. In this dual role, he will serve to bring the latest scientific insight to the agency’s field personnel and teach courses in the FRS department.

Bucholz said he is excited to bring his perspectives about ecological forestry to the applied work he will do with land managers and owners across divisional boundaries, as well as the students and professionals he will interact with at CSU. He hopes this will connect all levels of stewardship.

“The future requires foresters to meet different goals and add to the list of services we are trying to provide rather than silo the services we provide,” Bucholz said.

In his teaching role, he would like to help guide students to solutions by seeing all sides of an issue and seeking balance and compromise. Having undergraduates gain valuable internship experience and bringing new objectives and perspectives to practicing foresters gives both groups more tools to adapt in their profession.

“There is a balance to protecting ecosystems as well as using the litany of resources our forests provide,” Bucholz said. “The responsible use of our resources requires us to address issues of climate change by not solely looking to the past, but in moving forward.”

The additional services and efforts these three faculty and staff members offer students will add to their future success as land stewards.