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Tuskegee University and Pennsylvania State University partner to mitigate climate change

July 20, 2022

Contact: Thonnia Lee, Tuskegee University Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Dr. Gamal El Afandi
El Afandi

The United States Department of Agriculture and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded Tuskegee University $1.5 million grant for a Forest Owner Carbon and Climate Education (FOCCE) project in partnership with Pennsylvania State University.

How it works

The four-year award aims to prepare forest owners and extension professionals to serve their clients with forest carbon and climate issues. Tuskegee University will train forest owners to connect with peers and deliver the content they learned through the online program – consisting of 20-minute web-based training modules. The training modules will cover various issues, including climate change policy and impacts, carbon market structures, forest management under climate change, contract design, and tax implications.

This approach reaches owners who otherwise may not become involved in forest carbon and climate change issues. The peer education approach will be advanced through the National Woodland Owners Association and target minority landowners through the Women Owning Woodlands program and Tuskegee University Extension Services.

Dr. Gamal El Afandi, research associate professor of Environment Science, is the Tuskegee University PI and project Co-PI who will serve on the Curriculum Committee and expert panels. Dr. El Afandi will also work with Dr. Raymon Shange, director of the Cooperative Extension at Tuskegee University. Ron Smith, director of Forestry and Natural Resources, and George Hunter, Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension County agent, will also support the project’s implementation to help extend programming for African American Forest owners in the southeast. Researchers will be responsible for organizing peer learning programs, hosting workshops on climate change and forest management, and developing distance learning and web-based climate information.

Who We’ll Serve

“The scope of the four-year project includes the Eastern U.S. and is implemented in collaboration with the Northern Forests and Southeastern Climate Hubs; over 20 research and extension professionals at 13 land grant universities are included, in addition to multiple government agencies and private organizations,” said Dr. Shange. “Establishing a vertical community of practice will sustain programming into the future by linking forest owners with leaders and decision-makers to help foster the future co-production of climate-smart solutions on private lands.”

Dr. El Afandi said the education approach is grounded in adult education theory. “This experiential learning will allow for mixed delivery methods, including stakeholder feedback to adjust actions,” he said. “Other research methods will include direct learning through online recorded modules and resources, peer education and professional development training approach.”

The Tuskegee University Cooperative Extension Program (TUCEP) will facilitate basic literacy in forest carbon and climate issues and focus on incentive opportunities. The program will develop and expand access to new and existing tools and resources that will help guide planning and structured decision-making in forest carbon markets and government programs. By reaching under-represented categories of forest owners who are less likely to participate in the carbon economy, including African American and women forest owners and those who are not engaged in proactive forest management, a significant impact can be made on forest carbon and climate issues.

 A committee of project collaborators and partners will help develop and deliver the educational content, building on the Forest Carbon Markets 101 curriculum. The modules will be customized for different bioregions so that information about forest carbon and managing forests under climate change is region specific.

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