Remembering Watershed Professor Freeman Smith
A group of colleagues, family, and admirers gathered to remember Watershed Science Professor Freeman Smith and commemorate the planting of a Colorado blue spruce in his honor on Earth Day, April 22, 2015.
“Freeman was a teacher, mentor, and friend,” recalled Professor John Stednick. “He taught me how to teach. The passion he had in the classroom is still something I strive to emulate today.”
After completing his Master of Science at the University of Arizona in 1969, Smith went to work for the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Reynolds Creek, Idaho. He came to Colorado State University in 1971 to work on the International Biome Program Short-grass Steppe Program. For his doctoral research, he developed a volumetric infiltration method for grassland soils. Shortly thereafter, he was hired to teach principles of watershed management in the Department of Watershed Science, later becoming the Department of Earth Resources, which is now the Geosciences Department. He developed courses in watershed systems and watershed modeling. He retired in 2006.
Smith led the development of the international natural resources management program for the College of Natural Resources. He led teaching and research efforts in watershed management in a number of countries. Nearly two thirds of his graduate students were international students.
“He always said the way to write a thesis was to do the cover page and the back page and then just fill it in,” Stednick added. “He was the student’s go to guy. He was always optimistic and would get creative to help students solve their challenges.”
“He loved students and teaching,” said Walter Smith, one of Smith’s sons. “As a father he did for my brother and I what he did for his students.” Smith added, “He had a real knack for pointing people in the right direction.”
Emeritus Professor George Wallace shared a story about a day when he was frustrated with his students for underperforming. When he expressed his frustration to Smith the response was simple, “George, just remember, everybody is somebody else’s kid.” Wallace was so touched by the sentiment that it still remains with him.
“It’s really appropriate to have a Colorado blue spruce to honor Freeman,” former professor Jim Meiman, who donated the tree for the memorial, said. “It’s good to do this during Natural Resource Days and on Earth Day because he was so dedicated to the protection of natural resources and so in tune with the students.”
Individuals wishing to support the Freeman Smith memorial can make donations to the Colorado State University Foundation, with FM Smith in the memo line.
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