RUSTON, La. – Louisiana Tech University’s Forestry Department held a reception Wednesday to thank members of the Martin Foundation, the charitable arm of the RoyOMartin Companies, for a donation of four vans to be used by forestry faculty and students.
Four 15-passenger vans were donated directly to the university rather than through the Louisiana Tech University Foundation, and will go directly into the State Vehicle Pool.
The donation was by no means the first time the Martin Foundation has helped Louisiana Tech programs as it has also generously provided scholarship funds to Louisiana Tech since 1998.
Initially funding was provided annually for scholarships to students in both the College of Engineering and the School of Forestry who met the following prioritized criteria:
Priority 1: Dependents of employees of the Martin Companies who reside in any Louisiana parish
Priority 2: When qualified dependents of the Martin Companies employees are not identified, students domiciled in Allen, Avoyelles, Bienville, Grant, Natchitoches, Rapides, Red River, St. Landry or Vernon parishes will be considered.
Priority 3: Other qualified students. This arrangement changed in 2003, when the Martin Foundation began awarding $3,000 per year to fund three $1,000 scholarships for the School of Forestry. These three scholarship donations have been continuous since that time.
“We are committed to continuing to increase the quality of the forestry graduate produced by Louisiana Tech, and to make sure they are prepared to serve the needs of the industry going forward,” Tech President Les Guice told Martin representatives attending the reception.
“Our faculty and administration places an emphasis on graduating student that can help to secure the future of the industry and can make greater impacts on the products and services that foresters offer. Let us know what the needs of your company and the industry are, and we’ll ensure our graduates are prepared to meet and exceed those expectations.”
The Martin Companies have a long history with Louisiana Tech and have hired a multitude of Tech graduates, both foresters and engineers, over the years. The company now employs more Tech graduates than any other group.
Approximately three years ago, Martin employees began to notice that the four vans used by the School of Forestry were aging and ranged from 12-17 years old. Funds were not available through normal state budget channels to replace one van, let alone four. A seed was planted by a Louisiana Tech alumnus who was employed by RoyOMartin and that seed grew to produce the donation of the four new vans to the University, for use by the School.
“The quality and qualification that Louisiana Tech forestry graduates have upon leaving the university is outstanding,” said Roy Martin, president of RoyOMartin. “They are realistic and ready to contribute to the growth of our company and the forestry industry through the practical skills and knowledge they obtain at Louisiana Tech.”
“Having safe and reliable transportation is critical to our mission of educating the next generation of natural resource professionals,” said Dr. Mark Gibson, department head for Louisiana Tech Forestry. “Every day our students are being transported to local woodlands, processing facilities, and other areas to bring real-world experiences to their education. RoyOMartin’s generous gift will ensure that future generations of students will have the same experiences that former students have had over the years.”
Gibson said RoyOMartin has been an outstanding supporter of Louisiana Tech’s School of Forestry and, for many years, has provided scholarships, internships, and summer jobs for students. In addition, they have provided access to their forestlands and given tours of their processing facilities during hands-on learning laboratories.
“Our relationship with RoyOMartin does not end on the educational front. They have also been partners in the School’s research endeavors by sharing land, data, and personnel to advance the science of natural resource management.”
RoyOMartin Chief Operating Officer Scott Poole said the ties between the company and Tech will remain strong for years to come.
“Louisiana Tech has the only true forestry program in Louisiana,” Poole said. “We often meet as industry leaders who come together to discuss the needs of the forestry profession, both current and future, and how to address those needs through education. Louisiana Tech will be looked upon as a vital part of meeting those needs and continuing to produce outstanding forestry professionals.”