MORRISVILLE, N.Y. — Rebecca Hargrave, associate professor of environmental science & arboriculture at SUNY Morrisville, has been sharing her innovative teaching techniques and hands-on learning with students for more than a decade. That dedication has gone beyond the classroom and into the community, where she and her students continue to leave their mark.
Their work most recently led to her and the college receiving the inaugural 2023 Steward of the Year Award from the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Onondaga Chapter.
“I am humbled and honored by ADK Onondaga and happy to extend the credit to all of our natural resources students and my colleagues who have assisted with trail work over the years,” Hargrave of Norwich said. “Their trail construction, clearing and cutting work is what has made our Finger Lakes Trail so good.”
Under her direction, the college has been the trail steward for a three-mile section of the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) in Otselic since 2014. The FLT is comprised of more than 1,000 miles of main and spur trails stretching from the Alleghany to the Catskills.
It’s an honor Hargrave shares with her students.
Twice a year, students in her natural resource conservation A.A.S. and environmental & natural resource management B.Tech. programs conduct maintenance on the trail section.
“Students in Introduction to Recreation Area Management perform trail work at least once in the fall as part of the class,” Hargrave said. “Not only is it a great way to teach proper trail work, but it is also a great service-learning opportunity as the entirety of the trail is maintained by volunteers.”
In the spring, she recruits student- and colleague-volunteers to clean up the trail from winter damage.
“Students in that course learn how to manage nature for recreators and how to manage people to be responsible recreators,” Hargrave said. “We not only conduct trail work on our FLT section at Bucks Brook but also on our campus nature trail at the headwaters of the Chenango River and on various other SUNY Morrisville properties.”
On campus, Hargrave, an ISA Certified Arborist®, actively promotes the fields of arboriculture and urban forestry to her students and participates in public tree care education and research into the needs of urban forestry program management in New York State.
Hargrave joined the SUNY Morrisville faculty in 2012. She teaches numerous courses, including arboriculture, dendrology, recreation management, natural resources measurements, and forest protection, and coordinates the environmental sciences internship program.
The college has benefited from her expertise in managing its Arboretum, a three-acre preserve of native and ornamental tree and shrub species that serves as a living-learning laboratory for students, and the Callahan Brook Nature Trail, one-and-a-half miles of marked, self-guided trails that explore the streamside, wet meadows, forests and fields close to campus. Hargrave also promotes the campus tree population, which has resulted in 10 consecutive Tree Campus Higher Education® recognitions by the Arbor Day Foundation.
Active in the industry and her community, Hargrave is a member of the New York State Urban Forestry Council and the New York State Arborists, is chair of the City of Norwich Street Tree Committee and a volunteer for the United Way of Mid Rural New York.
Throughout her career, Hargrave has received many accolades, including the 2022 Research & Education Award from the New York State Arborists, ISA Chapter, the Environmental/Forestry Educator Award from the New York Society of American Foresters, and the 2019-2020 SUNY Morrisville Distinguished Faculty Award.
For more information about SUNY Morrisville, visit www.morrisville.edu.