Photo of UW-River Falls students learning about the wetland delineation process in application towards a restoration project..

UW-River Falls students learn about the wetland delineation process in application towards a restoration project.

A cutting edge Ecological Restoration Institute has opened in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. The mission of the institute, part of the Plant and Earth Science Department, is to enhance student skills in natural resource management through hands-on trainings/certifications, as well as teaching and work experiences associated with restoration projects.

“We are incredibly grateful for the vision and commitment of the donors in supporting the development of this cutting-edge institute that will provide high-impact experiences for students in conservation and environmental science and help them develop professionally,” said geology and soil science Professor Holly Dolliver, chair of the Plant and Earth Science Department.

Trainings and certifications will increase the eligibility, qualifications and marketability of students for jobs in natural resources. A selection of the available certifications includes boat safety training, chainsaw safety course, first aid, tractor training and wildland firefighter training.

Restoration projects will provide students with essential field experience that can be applied to their future careers. One of the current projects involves the management of the open field behind the Agricultural Science building and the greenhouse on campus. The project will offer students experience in restoring native plants and utilizing management practices such as herbicide application, prescribed burning, invasive species removal and water table monitoring. Students will be involved in this project throughout the 2020-21 academic year and beyond.

“I’m excited to be joining UWRF and the Plant and Earth Science Department with this unique opportunity for their students,” said Kelsey Cowart, project manager for the Ecological Restoration Institute. “The Ecological Restoration Institute is an incredible resource for students to jump start their careers. We are fortunate to offer this program and I look forward to collaborating with many students and faculty throughout the process.”

The institute is funded through the Environmental Studies Opportunity Fund, a fund created and sponsored by donors to the University Foundation. The fund also provides scholarships to students majoring in conservation and environmental science.

More information about the Ecological Restoration Institute is available at or email