The sharp thud of an axe hitting wood accompanied by the rhythmic whir of a crosscut saw often emanates from behind the Stephen F. Austin State University Forestry Building in the afternoon. More often than not, passersby also will hear the voice of Dr. Jeremy Stovall, associate professor of forestry and faculty advisor for the SFA timbersports team, the Sylvans, providing advice on how to improve technique with the occasional dose of good-natured ribbing thrown in.
Stovall has served as advisor of the Sylvans since 2012, and during that time, the team has won six of the past seven Southern Forestry Conclaves held each spring at universities across the southeastern U.S.
While the team’s wins often focus heavily on the physical events of the competition, the student’s performance in the academic portion of the Conclave best reflect Stovall’s priorities as a professor and mentor.
“He holds you to a really high standard in his roles as a teacher and faculty advisor, but he provides you with the tools to succeed,” said Chris Longman, president of the Sylvans and senior forest management student.
Stovall was recently awarded a Bright Spot award by the SFA Faculty Senate, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the SFA vice presidents in recognition for his work in creating an online, open-access textbook for use in his silviculture class.
“Our college has a three-pronged mission of education, research and outreach,” Stovall said. “By putting this information on a readily available website, it served to meet our teaching and outreach mission.”
Due to the increasing cost of higher education, Stovall said there is a push for more open resources across all disciplines.
He explained that larger disciplines like biology, physics and English currently offer more resources than smaller fields such as forestry, and this is a step in bridging that gap.
Not only is the textbook free, Stovall also provides students with the opportunity to contribute to the textbook.
“They don’t have to publish, but if they would like to, I help them edit and format the document for the website,” Stovall said. “They are then listed prominently as authors of that section.”
This is not the first instance Stovall has been recognized for his contributions to teaching. In 2018, he was one of seven faculty members recognized with an SFA Teaching Excellence Award. Stovall also maintains an open-access dendrology website full of tree identification resources for the region.
For more information about SFA’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, visit sfasu.edu/forestry.