First in the Nation
Society of American Foresters
Celebrating 50 Years
A forestry legacy connecting two centuries
Following well-trodden paths and blazing new ones
The Alpha Chapter is an official unit of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) national organization and a student organization in the Forest and Rangeland Stewardship Department.
Society of American Foresters Pledge
Protect and Serve
The profession of forestry serves society by fostering stewardship of the world’s forests. SAF’s mission is to use knowledge, skills, and a conservation ethic to manage sustainable forests in perpetuity.
Christmas Tree Sales
CSU Homecoming Bonfire
CSU Mountain Campus Benches
Forest Management Plans
Scout Field Day
Rist Canyon Festival
SAF National Convention
SAF Longs Peak Chapter
Colorado State Forest Service
CSU Forestry Origins
Students have been at the heart of CSU’s long-standing forestry tradition since its origins at the turn of the 20th century. In 1904, the first forestry class was established at the Fort Collins institution originally founded as the Colorado Agricultural College. The new forestry program quickly grew in numbers and reputation. It became known as the “Ranger Factory” from the 1920s through the 1960s. Graduates secured many posts in the National Park Service and occupied more positions in the United States Forest Service than any other academic institution.
The first Forestry Club formed early in the program’s existence. By 1916, students were already seeking additional resources to advance their forestry skills and bolster camaraderie. For decades, the club organized a large, multi-day “Foresters’ Days” event which became the template for how SAF Alpha still functions today. Students invited professionals from across their field to give technical presentations, held society business meetings, conducted public outreach, offered field demonstrations to practice and share forestry skills, and hosted large socials for their community. This foundation ensured the club’s smooth conversion into an official chapter of SAF.
The Forest Management Club in 1968 operated much as they had in years before, but this group of students wanted something more. During a local chapter meeting with the SAF Long’s Peak Chapter, discussions began about forming a student chapter which had never been done before. Faculty advisor Warren E. Frayer guided the young campaigners in pushing their request to the national stage. On November 6, 1969, over 100 people gathered at the Fort Collins Country Club to celebrate the founding of the first SAF student chapter in the nation. The new unit immediately began functioning as both official chapter and CSU student club under the inaugural leadership of forestry students Joseph Stancar, Delwin Beck and Stephen Ambrose.
The club continued deep-rooted traditions like selling cords of firewood, but also began new ones. As the college grew to include additional natural resource departments, Foresters’ Days transformed into Natural Resource Days. SAF Alpha still took the lead on planning and hosting the annual event. Forestry Professor Denny Lynch connected SAF Alpha with private landowners and the chapter helped develop management plans and implemented forest management on local lands for several years. A campaign for greater member involvement resulted in a new record of 173 members in 1980, which still holds today. The Society of American Foresters acknowledged the Alpha chapter with a 25th Anniversary plaque in 1994 and a 30th anniversary plaque in 1999.
20th Century Alpha
21st Century Alpha
SAF Alpha began the 21st century with a Quiz Bowl Championship at the SAF National Convention in 2000, the 100th anniversary year for the national organization. The chapter designed new initiatives to bring students back to the Society. They used their firewood and Christmas tree sales to get more members to the national convention. This effort along with additional outreach and service projects in the Fort Collins community have been recognized by outstanding student chapter awards from the Society. SAF Alpha earned first place honors in 2014, 2015 and 2017 with multiple second-place finishes. In 2018, more than 30 undergraduate students attended the SAF convention, a record in the memories of advisers and alumni.
Professional development continues to be the focus of this new Alpha generation. These young leaders recognize they will be working in a very different political and environmental climate than the century before. Issues of equality are shifting the national conversation at the same time forest health, wildfires, and climate change are transforming forests around the world. While honoring and remembering their strong roots, this student chapter’s priority is to develop more opportunities that prepare and inspire their generation to pursue various disciplines within forestry. Both the national organization and SAF Alpha are taking steps to improve diversity and inclusion in their units and overall field.