OSU’s new natural resources academy has a global appeal

Students and professionals from around the world are on the Oregon State University campus this month to take part in a pair of weeklong natural resources leadership seminars.

The inaugural Natural Resources Leadership Academy runs through June 29 and features courses on conflict management, communication, sustainable natural resources and leadership.

A total of 47 students from 10 states and two foreign countries are enrolled in either one or two of the five classes.

The collaborative course work and opportunity to study with OSU faculty attracted Mohammad Al-Atrash, a director for the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in Amman, Jordan. He made the 7,000-mile journey to increase his knowledge and then use it to improve living conditions in his country.

“The conflict related to water is very important to us because we are in the Middle East, and we are suffering from a shortage of water,” said Al-Atrash. “I hope to gain a valuable experience and learn from the others here to find out what they think.”

The seminars, offered by OSU’s Division of University Outreach and Engagement and OSU Summer Session, is designed for natural resources practitioners who work for state and federal agencies, environmental firms, watershed councils and graduate students.

The program has brought a number of OSU distance students to campus for the first time. Stephan Petranker came from New York, where he is pursuing a master of natural resources degree online through OSU Ecampus. The academy and the master’s program are the latest endeavors for Petranker, an anesthesiologist who also has an MBA and is a commander of an Army Reserve hospital.

Most of the program instructors are from OSU, as well as UNLV and Whitman College.

“This academy is going to be terrific,” said OSU professor of geography Aaron Wolf. “For anybody who’s working in natural resources and wants these skills in leadership, this is the place to be.”

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