MSU forestry students accepted into national diversity scholarship program

Contact: Grace Jones

Damilola Taiwo, left, and Segun Adeyemo
Damilola Taiwo, left, and Segun Adeyemo, both forestry graduate students in MSU’s College of Forest Resources, have been accepted into the competitive Society of American Foresters Diversity Scholar Program. (Photo by David Ammon)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Two Mississippi State graduate students have been accepted into the Society of American Foresters Diversity Scholar Program.

Damilola Taiwo and Segun Adeyemo, both forestry graduate students in MSU’s College of Forest Resources, have been accepted into the competitive program operated by the national organization that advances sustainable forest management, oversees accreditation of forestry programs and certifies professional foresters. Annually, 15-20 forestry students are selected for the national SAF Diversity Scholar Program, which brings forestry and natural resources students from underrepresented groups together to develop leadership and networking skills while assisting each of them through professional mentorships.

Students also receive a full scholarship to the SAF national convention and one complimentary year of SAF membership.

Taiwo, a forestry master’s student from Nigeria who loved nature and plants as a child, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental biology from Nigeria’s Ladoke Akintola University and the University of Ibadan, respectively. She then worked for the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, before coming to Starkville to earn her Master of Science in Forestry.

“I am appreciative of this opportunity because the mentorship program and expenses covered to participate in the Society of American Foresters convention will contribute immensely to my career,” Taiwo said. “There is a saying, ‘In the multitude of counsel, there is safety,’ and I feel more secure to have more counsel that can help me navigate my career path in forestry as an international student in the United States.”

Taiwo also thanked her advisor, Ashley Schulz, assistant professor in MSU’s College of Forest Resources and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center.

“Dr. Schulz has been such an amazing help. She shared the information for the Diversity Scholar Program with me, encouraged me to apply and wrote a letter of recommendation for me,” she said.

Adeyemo, a forestry doctoral student also from Nigeria, earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Ibadan in forest management. He also earned a master’s in forest science from the University of Padova in Italy. Adeyemo grew up spending time with his grandparents as they farmed, and he admired the agricultural lifestyle and landscape, which changed over the course of his youth.

“Trees started to disappear, and the way people lived changed, so I learned about climate change and how trees can help solve it. I developed an interest in trees and decided I wanted to be in forestry,” Adeyemo said.

He said he is most excited about the mentorship opportunity.

“There is a saying in my tribe that if you want to be a good leader, you must first be a good follower. A lot of students in Nigeria see me as a mentor in forestry because of my academic background. When students reach out to me, it is a challenge because I have never been mentored, so I am happy to be mentored in this program,” Adeyemo said. “As international students, we have lots of unanswered questions. This program’s mentor can expand our knowledge and insight about our futures in the industry. My mentor is a perfect fit for me, and I am excited to take what I learn and use it for the future to be a better mentor myself.”

Adeyemo’s advisor is Joshua Granger, forestry assistant professor in MSU’s College of Forest Resources and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center, who wrote Adeyemo’s recommendation letter and works alongside him daily.

“I owe a lot of gratitude to Dr. Granger. Aside from my research and academics, he is interested in my personal roots, and I draw confidence from him,” Adeyemo said.

For more on the Society of American Foresters, visit https://www.eforester.org/Main/.

For more on the forestry department in MSU’s College of Forest Resources, visit www.cfr.msstate.edu/forestry. More on the Forest and Wildlife Research Center can be found at www.fwrc.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.

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