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Catawba College Alumnus Named National Co-President of SAFE

January 28, 2009

Category: Alumni, Environmental Science


Coleman ;

Connor P. Coleman, a second-year graduate student at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University has been elected national co-president of the Student Association for Fire Ecology (SAFE). His term began January 1 and will run through December 31, 2009.

SAFE is a national organization dedicated to promoting knowledge of the vital role natural fire plays in many ecosystems, and the use of prescribed burns as a tool in ecosystem management and restoration.

A native of Brecksville, Ohio, Coleman is pursuing a Master of Environment Management (MEM) degree in Ecosystem Science and Conservation and a Master of Forestry degree in Forest Resources Management at the Nicholas School. He expects to graduate with dual degrees in 2010.

"My studies focus on the ecology, management and restoration of forests and forested wetlands on a landscape scale," he says. "I am particularly interested in restoring appropriate fire regimes to areas where management practices and policies have suppressed the natural fires that historically played a role in forest health."

Coleman received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2005 from Catawba College. Prior to enrolling at the Nicholas School, he spent three years in the field working for conservation organizations, including The Nature Conservancy. As a red-carded Type II Wildland Firefighter, he has conducted prescribed burns on more than 5,000 acres of private and public lands in the Southeast.

As national co-president of SAFE, he plans to work with universities, government agencies and nonprofit conversation groups to increase networking opportunities for students and provide more hands-on training in prescribed fire management techniques. "Red card training, burn certification, smoke management and chainsaw training would be useful for students to have while pursing employment," he says.

SAFE is the student association of the Association for Fire Ecology. It has chapters on university campuses nationwide, but most are on the West Coast, Coleman notes. He hopes to develop more East Coast chapters, especially in the Southeast, where natural fire is especially important to forest health.

The Duke Chapter of SAFE was established in 2008. Dan Richter, professor of soils and forest ecology, and Norm Christensen, professor of ecology, are its faculty advisors. For more information, contact Coleman at or go online to




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