Students at class in the woods at the 2011 Forestry Camp. Left to right: Christine Stontz, Alex Christensen, and Alanna McDermott. PHOTO: Richard Standiford

Save Our Only-at-Cal Forestry Camp

In 1969, the S. Donald and Bernice Schwabacher Fund was established through a bequest by Mina Schwabacher and a gift from her nephew, S. Donald Schwabacher, and his wife, Bernice. Nearly a half century later, the endowed fund, which created a long-term revenue source, is still an essential resource to one of the College’s defining educational experiences: the summer field class known as Forestry Camp.

Forestry Camp has provided thousands of students with a formative field-learning experience. It began in Quincy, Calif., in 1915 and then moved to a site in the beautiful mountains of the Plumas National Forest in 1917, where it still offers forestry majors and minors hands-on residential study in the forest. As the forestry program celebrates its 100th anniversary, this “classroom in the woods” remains an essential element of what makes our program so special, with many camp alumni describing their experience as life-changing.

The eight-week course provides an introduction to the scientific and professional dimensions of forest and wildland resource management. Students learn about ecology, plant life, range and wildlife management, silviculture, and forest operations and products.

Regrettably, because of rising costs, most colleges of natural resources have either scaled back their comparable programs, dramatically increased program tuition, or simply shut them down. Berkeley has been fortunate that the Schwabacher family invested in the program, and several generations have continued to support it.

The simple fact is that Forestry Camp has survived and thrived because of the Schwabacher Fund, which makes it possible for the College to help make up the gap between student fees and the actual cost to run the field course. While students are taking the course, they do not have time to work over the summer months to help pay their way.

To celebrate the centennial of forestry at Cal and preserve the same quality of education for future generations of natural resource researchers and professionals, the College has set out to grow the Schwabacher Fund.

Gifts to this endowment fund will help meet the rising costs of tuition and camp operations, and sustain CNR’s superior forestry field experience as an only-at-Cal distinction. According to Laura Oftedahl, the CNR alumni relations officer who is leading the campaign, “We’re trying to preserve access to this huge part of what makes Cal forestry education at once rigorous, practical, and memorable.”

— Kathryn Moriarty Baldwin