During the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ annual conference held in Austin, Texas, Dr. Zhu H. Ning, professor of the Urban Forestry and Natural Resources Department at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, received the Excellence in College and University Teaching Award from the United States Department of Agriculture and APLU.
According to the APLU and USDA, this National Awards Program recognizes the extraordinary efforts of educators who distinguished themselves in a field of hundreds of thousands of men and women who work tirelessly to improve the world through research, instruction and community engagement. Established by the Secretary of Agriculture under the authorization of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act, the National Awards Program focuses national attention on the role of teaching, which is fundamental to recruiting and retaining the scientific and professional expertise essential to future growth and progress. The award honors excellence in teaching by recognizing faculty who both practice and promote effective, innovative teaching. Recipients exhibited sustained, meritorious and exceptional teaching achievements.
Ning graduated from SFA in 1992 with a Doctor of Philosophy in forestry. In her award acceptance speech, she recognized the important role SFA played in her professional development.
“I have chosen teaching as my profession because I was inspired by the dean who recruited me and the professors who taught me at Stephen F. Austin State University,” she said. “Collectively, their teaching and mentoring changed my life. I have been paying it forward through nurturing my own students. Many of them have gone on to succeed in workforce or graduate school, and I am thrilled to have played an important role in their education.”
Throughout her career, Ning has obtained $20 million in competitive grants to support education, research and student professional development. She has provided experiential learning opportunities for students, such as global competency study abroad, and has organized workshops, symposia and forums to enhance education and research. Additionally, Ning is highly regarded as an urban forestry expert at regional, national and international levels. With 190 publications, she has integrated research into teaching, nurtured scientific curiosity and motivated students to a new heights.
Ning has a long history of contributing to the Society of American Foresters through her service as the SAF Urban Forestry Working Group Chair, International Forestry Working Group Chair, Chair of the National Committee on Cultural Diversity and National Convention Program Committee Chair. She also served as a member of the SAF National Committee on Leadership Development, National Committee on World Forestry, Education Program Review Criteria Committee and as the SAF representative in the Sustainable Urban Forestry Coalition. Her leadership and spirit of collegiality has resulted in three SAF Working Group Merit Awards for contributions in forest science programs.
Ning’s professional services to the International Society of Arboriculture are equally stellar. She is a member of the Editorial Board of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, an associate editor of the Journal of Arboriculture and Urban Forestry and a member of ISA Science and Research Committee. She has also served on the ISA board of directors and as the president of the ISA Arboriculture Research and Education Academy.
Through her exemplary achievements, Ning has also received the James and Ruth Smith Endowed Professor Award, Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, Chancellor's Award for Most Outstanding Researcher, College Faculty Excellence in Research Awards, Department Excellence through Faculty Excellence Award from the Louisiana State Board of Regents of Higher Education and awards from Louisiana State Governor.