Apply Knowledge Globally

Forestry education exchange with Liberia benefits both sides

Forestry Training Institute students work in small groups as part of a training exercise on developing a project proposal. Forest Service photo by Lee Cerveny.

LIBERIA – A Forest Service team was in Liberia from February 19 to March 2 to support the Forestry Training Institute; a two year, post-secondary school preparing future forestry and natural resource professionals from across Liberia. The team included Research Social Scientist Lee Cerveny of the Pacific Northwest Research Station as well as staff from the International Programs office. The work is funded by and in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development, and builds upon previous capacity building and curriculum development support to instructors and students at the school.

Through on-site training and sharing of tools, the Forest Service team focused on helping FTI broaden the use of their community forestry curriculum and develop a strategy for the creation of a conservation forestry curriculum. The team also supported the school in establishing procedures for a library and resource center that was stocked with an initial set of textbooks and resource materials related to forestry and natural resources management.

In addition to providing technical support to counterparts in Liberia, such experiences also often offer new perspectives that can be brought back to the United States. As Dr. Cerveny noted, “Working for so many years in North America, I have become accustomed to certain ways of thinking about nature and natural resources and rarely have these ideas challenged. Being in Liberia allowed me to challenge many assumptions about resource management and push me out of familiar habits of thinking.” As such, Dr. Cerveny anticipates that having supported this work in Liberia, “will be hugely beneficial when I return to my work as a scholar of human-resource interactions in the U.S.”