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By Kaiden Grossi, fleet manager, ACRT and Bermex
The North Carolina Vegetation Management Association (NCVMA) has a long history of supporting North Carolina (NC) State University’s program through several yearly scholarships. The NCVMA places an allotted amount into the school’s account and each year NC State University’s College of Natural Resources selects a graduate and undergraduate student to receive the funds.
ACRT has been actively involved in NCVMA since 2016 and has employees regularly attend the Association’s yearly symposiums and field days. In recent years, ACRT Operations Manager Brian Elam, several ACRT operations managers, and I have dedicated time to the NCVMA board and scholarship subcommittee. Previously, the committee was strictly dedicated to supporting the ongoing scholarship and relationship with NC State University. The committee wanted to evolve and engage the state’s membership body more fully.
In our line of work, Brian and I routinely interact, interview, and work with numerous community college students throughout the State of North Carolina. We proposed establishing an annual community college scholarship fund that would be allocated through the NCVMA scholarship committee. The rest of the subcommittee and the board voted to approve the community college scholarship with a few caveats.
North Carolina has three community colleges with premier forestry and natural resources departments, including Haywood Community College, Montgomery Community College, and Wayne Community College. The scholarship committee ultimately decided to pursue Montgomery Community College to serve as the fund’s pilot, due to its central location and the size of its forestry program.
The scholarship committee proposed a modest target for their first year of 2023. The goal was to pay for every second-year student’s NC pesticide license and exam fees — a cost of $2,000.
Numerous ideas were passed around the committee, which included guided fishing trip raffles, selling NCVMA apparel, and seeking sponsors.
The NCVMA hosts a yearly symposium that allows guests and vendors to sponsor certain parts of the meeting like lunch, breaks, and general donations. The scholarship committee used the same concept and applied it to our community college scholarship fundraising efforts.
Since several members of ACRT have been routine participants in NCVMA activities, the group approached ACRT first to contribute a small piece of the sponsorship. Instead of donating a portion of the committee’s goal, ACRT sponsored the entire $2,000 scholarship for the Montgomery Community College students.
The funds were disseminated to eight second-year students in May 2023 and were primarily used to fund the students’ NC pesticide licenses and exam fees.
The founding scholarship recipients include:
The NCVMA scholarship committee also put together additional fundraising opportunities for the continuing support of Montgomery Community College students. The ACRT Services family of companies participated in two of those opportunities.
Brian offered his fishing guide services for a raffle that was held in Spring 2023. Vegetation professionals from across the state entered. Barry Suddreth of Asplundh was picked as the lucky winner.
The scholarship committee partnered again with Montgomery Community College to hold a field day on its campus as an opportunity for professionals and students to join and earn continuing education units (CEUs) for various professional licenses. The day featured four demonstration windows where various groups exhibited relevant, hands-on activities.
Eric Romaniszyn and Maddie Genco of EnviroScience used one of the four demonstration windows as an opportunity to showcase a hands-on aquatics station where participants had the chance to collect benthic macroinvertebrates, such as crayfish and mayflies, that are common in rivers, streams, and lakes.
These scholarship fundraising opportunities will continue to take place each year with the goal of being able to offer support to other community colleges throughout the state. Our family of companies continues to show support for the continued education of not only our employees but future applicants, the NCVMA, and its partners in North Carolina.
ACRT is the largest independent utility consulting company in the U.S. and empowers utilities to proactively manage vegetation across their entire rights-of-way. We consistently stay on top of and share relevant industry content with our employees and customers around the country.