NACOGDOCHES, Texas — A newly formed partnership between global bedding manufacturer Temper Sealy International and Stephen F. Austin State University’s Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture promises to make progress toward the company’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality in its global operations by 2040 while giving SFA students access to hundreds of acres of living labs to reforest and manage.

Partnership in the initiative also sets the college up to fund future scholarships, assistantships and professional development for faculty members.

“SFA forestry has been cooperating for more than 20 years with private industry to implement carbon sequestration through reforestation and forest management, which has substantially benefited the college by providing experiential learning opportunities, research sites and financial support,” said Dr. Hans Williams, dean of the Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. “This initiative with Temper Sealy is a great opportunity to continue to expand SFA forestry’s knowledge and capacity for carbon sequestration and reforestation while providing many other educational, environmental and financial benefits to SFA, Temper Sealy and society in general.”

For the initiative, Temper Sealy purchased 695 acres in Rusk County previously used for cattle farming with the goal of reforesting the land with more than 345,000 pine and hardwood trees. In a memo to company employees announcing the partnership with SFA, Scott Thompson, Temper Sealy president and CEO, estimated that this project will offset 45,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions once trees mature and help the company achieve 7% of its target goal.

"As the land's new stewards, we will focus not only on carbon sequestration but also on the health of the land. That means considering what we plant and when we plant it, and preserving what is already there and thriving,” Thompson said. “Our dedication to corporate sustainability aligns with our objective to provide high-quality sleep products in an environmentally responsible manner that contributes to a more sustainable future. I'm so proud of the work we're doing and our incredible partners at SFA forestry."

SFA Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture faculty members, working closely with students, will be the lead forestland managers for the property, for which responsibilities include regularly reporting to Temper Sealy on the carbon stored on the site. Eventually, carbon monitoring will include carbon stored in long-term forest products after timber harvesting.

Initial soil sampling and planning for reforestation are already ongoing, and reforestation of the site is planned for winter 2024-25. Faculty and students also will have access to the property for additional teaching, learning and research.

“Working toward carbon neutrality can lead to operational innovations that result in benefits to the economy and support sustainable natural resources management,” said Jason Grogan, research associate in SFA’s forestry program. “The concepts of sustainable natural resources management are important for our students to understand and are interwoven throughout the curriculum for all SFA forestry and agriculture programs. Many organizations have implemented practices to reduce, eliminate or offset carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. Sequestration of carbon through reforestation is one of the tools used to support carbon neutrality efforts and provides numerous other environmental benefits.”

Such direct collaboration with Temper Sealy uniquely positions the Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture to support “experienced-based student learning that will aid faculty in preparing the next generation of society-ready professionals, support forest resources research that will contribute to knowledge and benefit society while meeting the company’s commendable goal of being responsible stewards of our environment,” Williams added.

Visit SFA’s Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture for more information.

About Stephen F. Austin State University 
Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website