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American Chestnut Topic of Annual Lecture

Bryan Burhans, President and CEO of the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF)
4/6/2010 —

DuBois - Bryan Burhans, President and CEO of the American Chestnut Foundation (TACF), and certified wildlife biologist, was chosen to present this year's Umbaugh Lecture at 12:15 on Friday, April 23, at Penn State DuBois.  During Burhans' visit, he will also plant an American Chestnut tree on campus at Penn State DuBois.  The planting is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Thursday, April 22. 


Made possible by the generosity of Robert and Joyce Umbaugh, the lecture brings highly qualified speakers in the fields of science and technology to the campus each year.  The lecture is free and open to the public.


Burhans and his presentation, Bring Back the American Chestnut, were chosen for the 2010 Umbaugh Lecture for a variety of reasons. Through Burhans' work with the groundbreaking efforts of TACF, a rebirth of the American Chestnut Tree may soon be a reality.  A rapidly spreading disease, known as the Chestnut Blight, attacked the American Chestnut Tree in the early part of the 20th Century.  Within a few years, the chestnut virtually disappeared from America’s forests.   Burhans is among a number of researchers working on a blight resistant strain of the chestnut by crossbreeding it with the Chinese Chestnut.  His lecture brings a greater awareness and understanding of this research to the campus community.


Though his work alone is worth hearing about, it is even more relevant to Penn State DuBois, since Wildlife Technology students here currently work with TACF to plant and care for crossbred chestnut trees as part of their curriculum, and part of the efforts to find a blight resistant tree.  These reasons are, in part, why Burhans' work is highly respected at Penn State DuBois.  "The American chestnut was the single most commercially and ecologically important tree species in the eastern deciduous forest prior to its demise in the first half of the 20th century," said Instructor of Forestry Aaron Stottlemyer.  "We at Penn State DuBois are fortunate to have strong ties to the organization leading the charge to restore this species to our forests, and to its president, Bryan Burhans."


Burhans received his Associate of Wildlife Technology degree at Penn State DuBois, and a Bachelor of Wildlife Science from Penn State. Then, he went on to earn his masters degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Frostburg State University.


Burhans started his career as a wildlife biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and served as a wildlife biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for two years. He then went to work for the National Wild Turkey Federation in South Carolina as the Director of Land Management Programs working throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

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