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ESF Ranger School names first woman director

Mariann Garrison-Johnston

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry named Dr. Mariann Garrison-Johnston director of its Ranger School. She is the first woman to lead the Ranger School.

Garrison-Johnston has been a faculty member at the Ranger School since 2008, coming to the Wanakena, New York, campus because of its commitment to forest technology and location.

“Our commitment to hands-on training is one of the best in the country,” said Garrison-Johnston. “To care for the health and welfare of our forests, and to understand and make good decisions about how we utilize our resources, we need people who can navigate through the woods, who can identify, measure and monitor everything from trees to water to wildlife. ESF’s Ranger School excels in preparing students for careers in the outdoors through our intensive experiential programs, and I am excited to carry that legacy forward.”

She assumes the position from Dr. Michael Bridgen, who served as director since 2013 and retired in June 2020.

Garrison-Johnston earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Idaho, and her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. Before joining ESF, she was a research scientist with the Intermountain Forestry Cooperative in Idaho, where she performed directed research into regional forest nutrition and health issues in the inland northwestern United States.

Garrison-Johnston is an active member of the Society of American Foresters, having served as chair of the New York Society as well as on the national Certification Review Board, and is presently serving an elected term as regional representative for New England and New York to the national SAF Board of Directors.

“I have been fortunate to be able to devote my professional life to conservation, to the wise use of our resources to ensure we are able to meet our daily needs for wood products while maintaining clean air and clean water, and protecting those special wild places where we can recreate and enjoy our connection with nature,” said Garrison-Johnston.

“Ensuring that we have these resources now and into the future requires good data, informed decision-making and dedicated professionals. I am proud and pleased to be among those who prepare future generations to manage and protect our natural resources.”

“We are very pleased to announce Dr. Johnston as the next Ranger School director and look forward to her assuming this important leadership role. We are also deeply grateful for the wisdom, talents and leadership that ESF has received from Dr. Bridgen over the years,” said Dr. David Newman, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs.

“The Ranger School is a vital component of ESF’s mission and prepares professionals for transformational careers and helps to embed values that create a sustainable future.”

About the Ranger School ESF’s Ranger School offers students a unique educational experience in a spectacular natural setting. The Ranger School confers the associate in applied science degree in three areas of study: forest technology, land surveying technology, and environmental and natural resources conservation. The Ranger School’s one-plus-one plan allows students to complete their first year at the college of their choice, then spend their second year at the Ranger School. While many move directly into outdoor careers in the areas of conservation, forestry and surveying, many also use their degree as a hands-on, experience-based step toward a bachelor of science degree, earned at ESF’s main campus in Syracuse, New York.

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