3 months ago

An inside look at Alabama’s first-in-the-nation School of Cyber Technology and Engineering

The new Alabama School for Cyber Technology and Engineering (ASCTE) in Huntsville is the first high school of its kind in the United States. Yellowhammer News recently got an inside look at how it is operating, and what its plans are for the future.

ASCTE is currently midway through its first semester with students in the classrooms. A state-of-the-art campus is currently under construction on Research Park in Huntsville, but for this year and next, the school meets on the campus of Oakwood University.

Created by an act of the state legislature in 2018, ASCTE is a public magnet school for students in Alabama. It offers the opportunity for students to live on campus in dorms, so it can be attended by any high school age student in the state, and tuition is free for all who enroll.

Its school supplies list for the fall included “empty 2-liter bottles for a rocket project.”

Background

Alabama has two institutions similar to ASCTE — the School of Fine Arts in Birmingham and the School of Math and Science in Mobile; they both also have students live on campus and are available for free to Alabamians who satisfy the admission requirements.

However, not one school in the entire nation shares ASCTE’s comprehensive focus on cyber technology and engineering.

The legislative effort in Montgomery to create ASCTE was spearheaded by State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and strongly supported by Governor Kay Ivey and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. Those three figures all spoke favorably about how the project was coming along at a recent groundbreaking for the new campus.

Matt Massey is the president of the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. The school’s board of trustees conducted a nationwide search for the right person to fill the job and found Massey right in their backyard. He had been serving since 2014 as superintendent of the Madison County School System.

“This was just different, where you get to start everything from scratch,” Massey said about taking the job at ASCTE, adding that what excited him was getting to “do things like change the way education has been done for the last 150 years.”

Matt Massey (Henry Thornton/YHN)

“We’re an investment for Alabama in itself; the Alabama students have an opportunity to get an education in K-12 that nobody else in the country has,” Massey said of ASCTE’s role in the state.

Before being elected superintendent in 2014, Massey spent years teaching math in the Madison County School System. That is where he met his wife, Jenny, or in his words, “the English teacher across the hall.” The couple and their three kids live in Huntsville.

Intelligent and welcoming in person, Massey has been granted significant authority to shape the pioneering new high school he leads. Massey has structured the organization after a university. Next to his office sits the dean of learning, who left a place in leadership at Athens State University to join ASCTE. Other staff members have the title “instructor” or “director.”

“We get to determine what are the graduation requirements for our students, and what classes do you have to take,” relayed Massey, who described his school as being “completely independent” of normal state standards but answerable to a 19-person board that approves the curriculum, graduation requirements and other important matters.

The composition of the ASCTE Board of Trustees is laid out in the legislation that created the school, and it includes government officials, university presidents and someone appointed by the governor from each of the state’s seven congressional districts.

Massey says he and his team did not feel like ASCTE “could guarantee quality” via virtual learning options due to its unique curriculum. That cost the school a student from the Black Belt who was admitted but chose not to attend because of COVID-19. Beyond the one student who could not enroll, the pandemic has affected the ability of employees to travel, recruit students and otherwise publicize itself.

As far as the operations of the school year on campus, the pandemic has not been overly disruptive. ASCTE has attentive testing protocols and space to quarantine kids if they get a positive result. All students are required to wear masks when inside, a rule which employees told Yellowhammer has been met with less than expected resistance.

Teachers at ASCTE have been hired from a wide range of backgrounds. The unique requirements of creating courses with no exact template demanded a degree of outside the box thinking, according to Massey, who added that he made a “concerted effort not just to hire teachers out of the local schools,” and ended up with only one instructor from a Huntsville area system.

The head engineering teacher came to the school after 30 years with Boeing, and his equivalent in cybertechnology comes to ASCTE from the Missile Defense Agency. Two other teachers moved from the Montgomery area and suburban Atlanta, respectively.

Yellowhammer News asked one ASCTE instructor, Brad Irish, what it was like to teach a group of kids with such specialized interests and abilities.

“Honestly, they are just like any other kids, they’re just a little more geeky,” he said with affection.

How it is working

The building where ASCTE classes are being held in 2020. (Henry Thornton/YHN)

For 2020, the school’s first year, there are 70 students enrolled, 30 of whom are boarding on campus. A coronavirus-impacted recruitment process saw about 130 Alabamians apply for the inaugural ASCTE class.

Massey told Yellowhammer that ASCTE staff focused on middle school scholars bowl and honor band competitions for recruiting students, saying that a “grassroots effort” was required for the early days.

The 70 students are split into four teams of 17 or 18 kids, each of which takes all its classes together. ASCTE currently has three teams of 9th graders and one team of 10th graders.

Ninth graders take physics as their first science course at ASCTE, whereas the vast majority of public schools begin with biology, a small example of curricular freedom given to ASCTE.

All classes, in all subjects, “fit in line with the mission of the school,” according to Massey.

Clicking image opens ASCTE academic guidance in a new tab. (ASCTE)

ASCTE does not and will not divvy up their kids into advanced level and standard level classes, according to Massey. Leadership wants each pupil to experience the same curriculum and believes their admission criteria selects for a high enough caliber student that separating by ability is not worthwhile.

“We have high expectations for all of them,” Massey explained.

A world history class at ASCTE gives focus to the timeline of important engineering advances across the ages; students may build a miniature trebuchet during a medieval physics enrichment class. English classes focus on professional and technical writing.

“Less poetry and more on writing how an engineer would write,” Massey said in response to a question on what an English course at ASCTE looks like.

Each student at ASCTE is given a laptop when they arrive on campus, a privilege not often enjoyed at the high school level. Conversely, enrollees are also subject to a stricter dress code than most schools: male students are required to wear collared shirts to class and no student is allowed torn or ripped blue jeans, for instance.

A typical ASCTE class (Henry Thornton/YHN)

Arts are included in the ASCTE curriculum; in the current school year, students are taking a class on how to create digital music via software on their laptops.

Regulatory freedom also allows ASCTE to grade its students differently than other high schools. Both the letter and number scale used by the school differ from what is traditional, which Massey sees as an asset.

The old 100-point scale of grading, with its letter assignments beginning at 60 and changing every 10 points, frustrated Massey.

“We have sixty points to document an ‘F,’ there are 60 ways to fail! That is really kind of ridiculous,” he remarked about the traditional grading method.

(Henry Thornton/YHN)

Within ASCTE’s system, a traditional B grade from an 85 is roughly equivalent to a P grade from 3.5. Massey gives a detailed explanation of the grading system here.

Massey said that a challenge for the school in the early going has been the varying qualities of education received at the middle schools the kids attended previously.

He explained that one student who arrived might have taken Algebra 2 in eighth grade, while another might have gone to a middle school that does not even offer Algebra 1.

“That is why we chose to be grades 9-12,” advised Massey, who believes those years allow enough flexibility that pre-existing imbalances can be leveled off.

A day at ASCTE’s engineering class (Matt Massey/ASCTE/Contributed)

For some classes at ASCTE, no student will have previous experience in, outside of hobbies they might have pursued on their own. Engineering instructor Bryan Martin said his goal for the first year of teaching was to put all his students “on the same foundation” and teach them the basics of the field, such as how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software.

“Nobody really came in knowing CAD,” added Massey about the students’ relationship to the advanced software being taught, “It doesn’t matter where you come from, this is new for everybody.”

Life on campus

Oakwood University, a historically black Seventh Day Adventist school with a 1,600-acre campus, is hosting both the school and the boarding students on its campus in northwest Huntsville.

ASCTE’s cutting edge campus is scheduled to open in the fall of 2022.

Massey called Oakwood “a great partner” in the ASCTE endeavor and praised the university’s leadership for how accommodating they had been to their new neighbors.

A construction delay at the Oakwood dormitory over the summer meant that ASCTE’s students are living in small housing pods that are reformatted professor housing. A selection of ASCTE staff live alongside the students to provide guidance, oversight and care.

An example of where a group of ASCTE boarders live in 2020. (Henry Thornton/YHN

Yellowhammer News was told on multiple occasions that several of the boarding students have taken to the freely available table tennis and air hockey tables.

Others may prefer video games, which can be played communally on common room televisions, or board games, which are readily accessible and often kept going for days at a time.

Students are not allowed TVs in the rooms where they sleep in an effort to foster greater levels of community.

The common area of a dwelling where ASCTE boarders live. (Henry Thornton/YHN)

Still another group of attendees have created and tend to a garden, even forming a club around their new agricultural interest. Club participation and recreation are big parts of afternoons on campus. Massey is the sponsor of the fishing club, which he says he particularly enjoys.

Yellowhammer asked the school counselor at ASCTE what the biggest challenges are, from her perspective, among the students.

“Just kids adjusting to living away from home as 9th graders. That is a pretty big deal when you are 14 years old,” she responded.

Students were not allowed to choose roommates upon enrolling at ASCTE. Administrators see having to cohabitate with someone who may come from a different background or have differing views as a positive aspect of the boarding environment.

ASCTE’s meals are prepared by the kitchen staff at a nearby event center and brought to the campus for consumption, an arrangement that proved fortuitous for both organizations as the coronavirus pandemic has greatly reduced the demands on the event center.

Boarding students have meals provided each night, but also have kitchens available for light cooking.

The school does charge students for meal plans, but assistance is available to any individual where the cost might strain finances at home.

Students told Yellowhammer they generally enjoyed the on-campus lifestyle and how close-knit they had become. A teacher who resides alongside the students praised the “family atmosphere.”

The original plan for weekends at ASCTE included many field trips to spots like movie theaters, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in those plans. Outings to escape rooms and local shopping centers have been accomplished with the proper precautions.

Jordan Bolte, ASCTE’s director of residential life, came to the school after a string of jobs in the field at colleges, most recently at Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

“We have a lot of students that are not only articulate, but also thoughtful, about why they are here and what they want to do,” Bolte told Yellowhammer about ASCTE kids.

“When I was 14, I think I had just discovered I had thumbs,” he added jokingly.

“I think it takes a special kind of student to come here and say, ‘I want to be an engineer, I want to be a programmer, I want to work in cybersecurity, and here is how I think I will get there,'” he advised with respect to the students he deals with each day.

The future

Plans currently have ASCTE doubling in size each of the next four years, with a goal of over 320 students enrolled by 2024.

For the foreseeable future, half of ASCTE’s enrollees will be students in the Huntsville area; the new campus will have 150 beds for boarding students.

The School of Math and Science in Mobile, which requires all attendees to board, has around 280 students. The School of Fine Arts, which allows some students to live at home in a similar fashion to ASCTE, has around 340 enrolled.

Every one of Alabama’s 138 public school systems is guaranteed a spot for at least one student in each incoming class of students at ASCTE once it reaches full enrollment.

Massey says a priority for him is “reaching farther into South Alabama” for enrollees in the coming years. He says that many students currently enrolled were referred to the school by superintendents or pushed to apply by their middle school principals.

Courses developed at ASCTE will eventually be exported to any other school in Alabama that wishes to add them to its curriculum. Officials at the institution say that only a patchwork of engineering classes currently exist in Alabama’s public schools.

On top of developing a number of courses that other schools could teach if they wish, Massey also envisions “cyber camps” in other counties that ASCTE could play a role in shaping so the school can demonstrate benefits to the state outside the Huntsville area.

Students at ASCTE in the coming years will take a biotechnology course that is being developed in concert with scientists at the world-renowned HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, one of the many ways ASCTE draws on the resources available in the Rocket City to strengthen its offerings.

Martin, the engineering instructor, and Massey both told Yellowhammer that they collaborate with “industry partners” on the development of things like their engineering courses.

“We’ll connect Raytheon with them, we’ll get Boeing and some of their cyber folks to come and help with how to incorporate cyber and engineering,” explained Massey.

Raytheon is, to this point, the biggest industry backer of ASCTE, having given $4 million towards the new campus. The legislation that created ASCTE allows for fundraising from private sources to help boost the school beyond what is possible with state funds.

Artist rendering of future ASCTE campus. (Huntsville Madison County Chamber)

In media appearances, Raytheon executives have expressed that they see a growing shortage of cyber and engineering workers in the coming years and want to encourage kids to focus on those subjects in school.

A large selection of faculty housing is being built alongside the dorms on the new campus, a decision Massey says was influenced by what he saw on the campuses of Baylor and McCallie, two successful private boarding schools in Tennessee.

Massey remarked to Yellowhammer News about what he would like to see once his students become graduates.

“We have great universities here in the state. We want our kids to see those opportunities, and we want them to stay in Alabama. We want them to go to college in Alabama and come back and contribute,” he replied.

Massey added, “Our students are going to get a leg up on some of these industry and governmental agency opportunities that other students in other states don’t have.”

What the students have to say

One student, a sophomore who had been homeschooled in years past, said ASCTE “was not all what I expected.”

“It is probably better,” she continued, “It is an amazing school.”

Joshua Ledlow, a 10th grader at ASCTE, told Yellowhammer that ASCTE is “leaps and bounds better” than his previous school experiences.

“All of the teachers are very passionate about what they are teaching, and that is very clear in the way they communicate what you need to learn,” he stated.

A career in the military, either the Air Force or Army, is the goal for ASCTE sophomore Sam Ware.

“To me, the main reason I wanted to come here was there is a lot of, I guess you could say, growing up that you have to do,” explained Ware, one of the boarding students.

He believes the ASCTE curriculum and environment are what he needs to prepare himself “to be a leader down the road.”

When a classroom of students was asked by Yellowhammer if they would recommend ASCTE to their friends with similar interests, they all nodded their heads, “yes.”

Editor’s note: Students interested in applying to ASCTE next year can click here to get more information on how to apply.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

1 hour ago

DeVonta Smith accepts Senior Bowl invitation

To the pleasant surprise of many, University of Alabama star wide receiver DeVonta Smith has accepted an invitation to participate in the 2021 Senior Bowl, to be held January 30 in Mobile, Alabama.

This year’s Senior Bowl and the week of practices, workouts and interviews before the game will look a little different due to COVID-19 protocols, however the annual showcase will still be a premier scouting opportunity for NFL prospects and teams.

The game itself is already sold out (with limited capacity) for its first-ever game to be played in the state-of-the-art Hancock Whitney Stadium located on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

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Now, the event has added the Heisman Trophy winner to the list of elite prospects who have accepted the Senior Bowl’s prestigious invitation to play in the game.

Smith, a two-time national champion for the Crimson Tide, will be added to the roster of either the American team or National team.

The staffs of the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins will coach the respective teams. Miami owns both the third pick and 18th pick in this spring’s draft, and the Panthers have pick No. 8.

One incentive for Smith to participate in the Senior Bowl is the difference in contract values between top picks; looking at last year’s numbers, there was a $10 million difference in picks No. 3 and No. 7, for example.

The Senior Bowl’s website also says that Alabama offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood, Landon Dickerson and Deonte Brown and long snapper Thomas Fletcher have accepted invitations.

Looking around the Yellowhammer State, Auburn’s KJ Britt, South Alabama’s Riley Cole, and UAB’s Jordan Smith and Austin Watkins, Jr. have also reportedly accepted Senior Bowl invitations.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

5 hours ago

State Sen. Allen opposes Alabama Memorial Preservation Act repeal — Says it is ‘important’ to protect history

Last month, State Sen. Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa) said he anticipated efforts to change the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, which he had sponsored in 2017.

The law has been in the news as of late given the rise of the so-called Black Lives Matter protest movement, responding to the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police. The cities of Birmingham and Mobile moved to take down Confederate memorials, in violation of the law.

During an appearance on Alabama Public Television’s “Capitol Journal,” Allen echoed his expectations but said he was opposed to any efforts to repeal the law outright.

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“Just like I said in the past, it is so important, and it is something that we need to be careful with and to protect it,” Allen explained. “It is what it is, and there are some things that took place in history that are shameful, and ugly, and disgraceful — but it is what it is and tells a story about who we are and where we come from. In fact, so many events have taken place here in Alabama and across this great country that represents some major, major policy changes. Some of those events took place in this great state. Certainly, I just think for our generation and generations to follow each of us and for four or five generations down the line, for you to be able to tell the complete story on what exactly took place and how we got to where we are — to be able to tell that story I think is very important.”

“If you start removing things and start saying that things shouldn’t exist — I think we need to be of open mind and about how important it is to project history,” he added. “It is a real issue to some. Certainly, I understand that. But it is history.”

APTV host Don Dailey asked Allen if he was open to “tweaks” but opposed a full repeal, which Allen warned a repeal would have consequences.

“I think we’ll be doing a great disjustice to history to go that far with it and to put it in such a way where currently if there is a mechanism in place, and it is a very good process in which individuals must go through, and it is one of those kinds of steps that we put in place to guarantee how we’re going to observe history and protect history as well,” he said.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

6 hours ago

U.S. Rep. Aderholt: Donald Trump, Mo Brooks remarks didn’t rise to the level of inciting violence — U.S. Capitol riot was ‘premeditated’

President Donald Trump and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) are facing threats of repercussions for speaking at a rally in the lead-up to the riots on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. earlier this month.

Trump has since been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, and Brooks is facing threats of a censure resolution by the same body.

However, during an interview with Alabama Public Television, Brooks’ colleague U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), a “no” vote on impeachment, said while they may have been ill-advised, neither of their remarks rose to the level of inciting violence.

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“I don’t think it was an impeachable offense,” he said of Trump. “If you look at what he said, and I looked at them, they were not I don’t think would nearly rise to that level. Obviously, he, like so many Americans, were concerned about the outcome of the election that occurred back in November — not just the outcome but the way it was handled, and the way the laws were not really in compliance with — and a lot of this really dealt with COVID-19 and the way the states were doing things. We could talk about that for an hour but let me just say that I don’t think that his actions were something that would rise to impeachment. If you look at the actions of those that were rioting in the Capitol, they were there and had a plan well before Donald Trump spoke to the people there for the Electoral College vote. They wouldn’t have had time for them to leave there, get the necessary equipment that some of them had — like the ties we’ve seen in the photos, several other objects that they had. That was something that had to be premeditated.”

He added the “vast majority” of the people at the protest event in Washington, D.C. that day were not a part of the rioting at the U.S. Capitol.

“I’ve looked at the words the president used that day and he in no way from the words that I have seen in the transcripts, that he in any way tried to incite any riots. I think those that would say so are just looking for some reason to try to fail the president.”

“Capitol Journal” anchor Don Dailey then asked Aderholt about Brooks, who Aderholt described as being “very passionate” but not responsible for the U.S. Capitol violence.

“If you know Congressman Brooks, he’s very passionate,” Aderholt added. “But again, I don’t think that what he said caused the rioters to go in. Again, they had to have had a plan well before Congressman Brooks spoke. I think looking back, his words could have been chosen differently. I think he could have made his point without using some of the words he did. But I don’t think it rose to the level of inciting the violence that did occur. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I know that he’s been very committed in what his comments were, I think perhaps he would have chosen those words differently had he known the outcome. But obviously, if you know Congressman Brooks, he’s very passionate on whatever issue he works on, and I think that was part of the day there that he was concerned like many of us were — that the electoral votes that were going to be counted — there were a lot of questions. We can’t move forward in this country if we have a lot of people questioning going to the ballot and making sure their vote is counted. If we start down that path, then I think it’s the end of our democracy as we know it because people have got to have the confidence when their vote is cast, their vote is not going to be put in with votes that are not credible and that are questionable.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

19 hours ago

NASA successfully ignites engines on Huntsville-managed SLS core stage, collects valuable data

NASA on Saturday conducted a hot fire of the core stage for the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that is scheduled to launch the Artemis I mission to the moon later this year.

The hot fire was the final test of the eight-part, 12-month Green Run series, conducted at Mississippi’s Stennis Space Center.

SLS is the world’s most powerful ever rocket that will power America’s next-generation moon missions and subsequent crewed missions to Mars. Alabama’s aerospace industry has led the effort to build the SLS, which stands 212 feet high and 27.6 feet in diameter.

Boeing is the core stage lead contractor, and Aerojet Rocketdyne is the RS-25 engines lead contractor. The SLS program is managed out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, while Boeing’s Huntsville-based Space and Launch division manages the company’s SLS work.

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The hot fire test plan called for the rocket’s four RS-25 engines to fire for a little more than eight minutes – the same amount of time it will take to send the rocket to space following launch.

The team successfully completed the countdown and ignited the engines, however the engines shut down a little more than one minute into the hot fire. Teams are assessing the data to determine what caused the early shutdown and will determine a path forward, per a release from NASA.

During the test, the core stage generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust while anchored in the historic B-2 Test Stand. The hot fire included loading 733,000 pounds of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen – mirroring the launch countdown procedure.

“Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and to carry crew on future missions,” stated NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who attended the test. “Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.”

Support teams across the Stennis test complex reportedly provided high-pressure gases to the test stand, delivered all operational electrical power, supplied more than 330,000 gallons of water per minute to protect the test stand flame deflector and ensure the structural integrity of the core stage, and captured data needed to evaluate the core stage performance.

“Seeing all four engines ignite for the first time during the core stage hot fire test was a big milestone for the Space Launch System team” said John Honeycutt, the SLS program manager at Marshall. “We will analyze the data, and what we learned from today’s test will help us plan the right path forward for verifying this new core stage is ready for flight on the Artemis I mission.”

Overall, the hot fire represented a milestone for American space exploration.

“Stennis has not witnessed this level of power since the testing of Saturn V stages in the 1960s,” commented Stennis Center Director Rick Gilbrech. “Stennis is the premier rocket propulsion facility that tested the Saturn V first and second stages that carried humans to the Moon during the Apollo Program, and now, this hot fire is exactly why we test like we fly and fly like we test. We will learn from today’s early shutdown, identify any corrections if needed, and move forward.”

You can watch the hot fire here.

Under the Artemis program, NASA is working to land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024 through Artemis III.

Artemis I will be the first integrated flight test of SLS and the Orion spacecraft. This will be an uncrewed test flight. Artemis II is slated to be the first crewed flight for the program.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

20 hours ago

USDA, Alabama sign historic agreement to improve forests on public, private lands

U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary James Hubbard and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a shared stewardship agreement Jan. 12 to ensure the long-term sustainability of public and private lands in the state.

The agreement signed in an online ceremony is among USDA’s Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Alabama Forestry Commission.

Shared Stewardship agreements establish a framework for federal and state agencies to collaborate better, focus on accomplishing mutual goals, further common interests and effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural resource concerns.

“Shared stewardship provides an incredible opportunity to work with the state of Alabama to set stewardship priorities together,” Hubbard said. “We will combine our mutual skills and assets to achieve cross-boundary outcomes desired by all.”

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This agreement centers on USDA’s commitment to work with states and other partners to use the best available science to identify high-priority forests that need treatment.

“From our rolling mountains to our sparkling coast, the world can understand why they call it ‘Alabama the Beautiful,’” Ivey said. “I am pleased that we can build on the conservation efforts already happening through these strong federal and state partnerships. I look forward to our state continually working for the good of the people as well as our natural resources and to preserve our beautiful state for generations to come.”

Alabama becomes the seventh state in the South and 23rd in the nation to sign such an agreement to strengthen partnerships to increase the scope and scale of critical forest treatments that support communities and improve forest conditions.

“We look forward to continuing to work together with our partner agencies under this shared stewardship agreement,” said ADCNR Commissioner Chris Blankenship. “This agreement memorializes a lot of the good work we have already been doing together to manage the resources and enhance our beautiful state, and it adds new areas where we can grow our partnerships.”

The agreement can be found at https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/shared-stewardship.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)