CLEMSON — The Society of American Foresters awarded Clemson University’s Lawrence “Larry” Gering with the 2017 Carl Alwin Schenck Award for a career of excellence in the field of forestry education.

The Schenck Award is the nation’s highest teaching award in forestry education. Gering earned the award for his “innovative approach to teaching, mentoring and experiential learning,” according the selection committee.

Lawrence "Larry" Gering

Lawrence “Larry” Gering

“I am honored to receive the Carl Alwin Schenck Award,” Gering said. “I have been lucky to have been influenced by many outstanding faculty members over the years, including Leon Pienaar and Jerry Clutter (University of Georgia), Bill Shaine, Al Marsinko and Larry Nix (Clemson), and Fred Knight and Ralph Griffin (University of Maine). To the extent I have been an effective teacher over the years, I owe much to them.”

Gering is a tenured associate professor in Clemson’s forestry and environmental conservation department. He focuses his teaching emphasis on forest measurement, forest statistical analysis, remote-sensing, the use of global positioning systems in forest analysis and introductory forestry courses. Gering also is known for providing students with hands-on experience in the latest forest inventory methods and GPS and 3-D mapping technology.

“While the basic principles of forestry have remained the same for many years, the tools to understand the forest and develop accurate and effective management practices have evolved. Larry strives to incorporate these tools into his classes so our students graduate with a working knowledge of the best practices and techniques,” said George Askew, dean of Clemson’s College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences.

Gering also teaches forest mensuration during Clemson University’s Forestry Summer Camp, a seven-week program designed to give students hands-on experience in the field of forestry.  Forest mensuration is the basis for the measurement of trees and forest inventory, which is part of forest management. In one particular exercise, known among his students as “The Big Cruise,” Gering assigns three-person crews to develop forest inventories of 200- to 300-acre tracts of forestland. Students use traditional inventory techniques combined with topographic maps and GPS data to create a three-dimensional map of their forest mapping area. They then “cruise” their tracts to determine the location, amount and value of the timber resources.

“Dr. Gering’s use of 3-D models in a classroom setting provided a different perspective. Three-dimensional models allow students to physically hold and observe the terrain in their hands,” said Kylie Burdette, Geographic Information Systems Analyst for Milliken Forestry in Columbia.

“Without his encouragement and knowledge, I would not have the career I have today,” said Burdette, who received a Bachelor of Science and a master’s degree under Gering in forestry from Clemson in 2013 and 2015, respectively.

Gering received a Bachelor of Science in forest management from the University of Maine in 1979, a Master of Science in forest management from Clemson University in 1982 and the Ph.D. degree in forest biometrics from the University of Georgia in 1985.

Gering has been a member of the Society of American Foresters since 1979 (student member 1976-1979). He is an SAF Certified Forester (No. 748) and a South Carolina Registered Forester(No. 1651 ). He received the Ansel Miller Excellence in Teaching Award from the Clemson University Graduating Seniors in Forestry (2006), the Outstanding Service Award from the Appalachian Society of the Society of American Foresters (2006) and the Special Volunteer Service Award from the South Carolina Division of the SAF (2009). He served as national adviser to XI Sigma PI, the national honor society for forestry students (1998-2000). He was the faculty adviser for the SAF National Outstanding Student Chapter in 2000.

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Carl Alwin Schenck
The German-born and educated Carl Alwin Schenck was invited to the United States by George W. Vanderbilt to manage the Vanderbilt Forest Estate in North Carolina. Together with Bernhard E. Fernow and Gifford Pinchot, Schenck was one of the few academically trained foresters in the United States in the 1880s and was among the original 15 active members of Society of American Foresters. Schenck founded the first forestry education program in the United States at the Biltmore Forestry  School in 1898 and is recognized as the nation’s first forestry professor.

Society of American Foresters
The Society of American Foresters is a 12,000-member community that has held true to its original objective to bring forestry and natural resources professionals together and keep them informed about the latest advances in forest science and management.