Our history

The Great Plains state of Nebraska has a rich history of forestry. In 1895, the Nebraska legislature passed a bill for the state to be known as "The Tree Planters" due to the enormous effort of early Nebraskans to plant millions of trees and the creation of Arbor Day by J. Sterling Morton in 1872.

By 1903, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln had established a forestry department and degree under Dr. Charles Bessey, who quickly hired Dr. Frank Miller as the head of the Department of Forestry. However, the program and department were discontinued in 1915 – although education and research in windbreaks and shelterbelts continued.

The Nebraska Forest Service also continued to work with land owners and forests throughout the state, according to “The Great Undertaking: The Unique History of the Nebraska Forest Service,” by Tony Foreman. It wasn't until 1945 that the Nebraska legislature changed the state nickname to "Cornhuskers" in reference to the university football team.

One-hundred years after the forestry department was closed, the Nebraska Forest Service and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s School of Natural Resources received U.S. Forest Service funds to begin developing a new forestry undergraduate program to prepare a future generation of students to study forestry concerns in natural, rural, and urban communities.

In April 2017, Dr. Eric North joined the School of Natural Resources faculty to develop forestry courses and a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry. Shortly after arriving to the university, Dr. North started referring to his students as Tree Huskers to honor the rich history of trees — also the pun on "Tree Huggers" didn't hurt.

On Feb. 5, 2020, the Nebraska Education Commission gave final approval to the undergraduate degree in Regional and Community Forestry.

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