Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA collaborates with Swedish institution on study abroad program

September 23, 2013 - Andreya Taylor
(from left) John Sperry, academic adviser in SFA's Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture; Dr. Hans Williams, associate dean of the college; Per Andersson of Sweden, a student at Älvdalen Educational Center, and Hannah Berlund, academic adviser in the Temple College, participate in a tour of the Piney Woods Conservation Center in Broaddus, Texas. Andersson spent two weeks at SFA as part of his internship for Älvdalen Educational Center.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - The Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University is working with Älvdalen's Educational Center, a forestry and hospitality post-secondary technical college in Älvdalen, Sweden, to create a study abroad program.

According to Dr. Hans Williams, associate dean of the college of forestry and agriculture, Ing-Marie Bergman emailed him to see if the college of forestry would be interested in collaborating. Bergman is in charge of international programs at Älvdalen's Educational Center. The institution encourages its students to complete internships abroad, but the faculty was having a difficult time setting up a program in the United States. Williams, along with Drs. Theresa Coble and Brian Oswald from forestry and Dr. Chay Runnels, assistant professor of human sciences, have been working with Älvdalen to get a program started.

In May 2012, faculty members from Älvdalen visited the Temple College and School of Human Sciences. In turn, SFA faculty members traveled to Sweden in April of 2013 to learn more about Älvdalen's programs. Williams said everyone was extremely impressed.

"They use highly advanced technology, and their program is very hands-on, very applied," Williams said.

For example, when harvesting timber, Älvdalen's students are involved in each step of the process from planning the cut to hauling it to the mill to replanting. The institution also has 14 simulators used for timber harvesting, crane driving, heavy vehicle driving and hunting.

Williams said exposure to this technology, along with the ecology and culture of Sweden, will greatly benefit SFA students. The study abroad trip remains in the planning stages, but Williams has submitted a proposal for a cross-listed, forestry and hospitality trip to Älvdalen's Educational Center.

The class will be open to all students, and Williams said he envisions it being offered during a May-mester or spring break. The itinerary details have not been cemented yet, but Williams said he would like students to have a mix of forestry, hospitality and recreation instruction in the curriculum. The trip also would likely include fly-fishing, a trip to a nearby national park and sightseeing in Stockholm, as well as tours of logging sites and time spent at Älvdalen and other educational destinations.

Erik Björklöf, the chief executive officer of Älvdalen, is part-owner of a fly-fishing camp in the Lapland region of Sweden and was open to hosting an SFA student this year. During the summer, SFA urban forestry major Chris Dempsey spent a few weeks in Sweden exploring, learning to fish and working around the camp.

The Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture hosted Per Andersson, an advanced technical forestry student from Älvdalen's Educational Center, for two weeks in early September. Andersson is set to graduate Oct. 25 and visited SFA to complete his internship.

His schedule was designed to expose him to the forestry industry in the United States, as well as the ecology and culture of Texas. Andersson's agenda included a tour of the college of forestry and agriculture's facilities, tours of local mills and tracts with students and alumni, participation in labs, and activities like tailgating before the Lumberjack football game, fishing on Lake Nacogdoches, and visiting Caddo Lake State Park.

For more information about the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, visit www.atcofa.sfasu.edu.