The Forestry major is a professional degree program and is the only one in Kentucky accredited by the Society of American Foresters. Forestry students are trained to grow, manage, and protect healthy forest ecosystems. Our forestry classes are designed to give students hands-on field experiences using the latest technology when learning about land management principles and practices. We also work with students who are interested in hands-on, experiential learning opportunities through internships and summer employment.

During the spring semester of the junior year, forestry majors participate in a semester-long, field-oriented immersion into the practice and application of forestry, wildlife, and natural resource management techniques. The first half of the Spring Field Semester is spent traveling throughout Kentucky and the surrounding region to learn about different ecosystems, land uses, landownership types, and wood industry facilities. The second half of the semester is spent at the university’s 15,000-acre experimental forest in southeastern Kentucky to give students additional hands-on field experience.

UK students with an interest in both forestry and wildlife studies have the opportunity to combine these exciting outdoor career paths as a wildlife forester. A wildlife for­ester has the skills to manage wildlife and their forested habitats. For most students, adding one or two semesters to our accredited professional forestry program provides the courses necessary to meet the minimum requirements for the Associate Wildlife Bi­ologist Certification by The Wildlife Society (TWS). In the increasingly integrated and connected world of natural resource management, coupling TWS certification with a forestry degree puts graduates at a competitive advantage for forestry jobs and provides the minimum qualifications for state and federal wildlife agency jobs. Students interested in wildlife also have the option to pursue a Minor in Wildlife Biology and Management.


What is Forestry?

Forestry is the science, art, and practice of sustainably managing forested resources for the benefit of humans. That’s the simple definition – its full understanding requires a little in-depth analysis of some key points.


1. Forestry is both a science and an art.

It is rooted in the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and mathematics and is performed with the applied sciences of ecology, silviculture, and management. While science guides the decisions of a forester, it does not make them for him or her. Foresters must apply their knowledge in a decision-making arena where good solutions are not always obvious, conflicting human interests must be considered, and conflicting opinions must be compromised. This need for experienced judgment, diplomacy and tact constitutes the art of forestry.


2. Forestry is a profession – not just a job or occupation.

It is a practice in the sense that medicine and law are practices. The education of forestry practitioners is accredited by a professional association (Society of American Foresters) and their professional conduct is guided and governed by a Code of Ethics. There is much more to being a forester than taking a few courses.


3. Forestry is guided by the principles of sustainability.

Sound forestry decisions consider the current and future health of the forest and strive to ensure that benefits will be available for future generations.


4. Forestry involves more resources than just trees.

Although trees are the predominant plant component of forests, foresters manage all of the resources found in forests. You will, therefore, find foresters concerned with trees, animals (both game and non-game), soils, water, insects, diseases (both tree and animal) and human beings.


5. Foresters manage for a broad spectrum of benefits that humans desire from their forests.

This includes the obvious things we take from forests – like wood and game species, but also includes less obvious things like water quality and quantity and benefits that have real value but are hard to measure – like wilderness, non-game and endangered species, recreation opportunities, clean air and biodiversity. The field of forestry can cover it all.


Learn more about the forestry profession.


How can we help? Photo of Laura Lhotka

If you have questions about the UK Forestry program or would like to schedule a visit, let us know.

Contact Laura Lhotka, Forestry Academic Coordinator 859-257-8718, laura.lhotka@uky.edu