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Graduate leaving newfound home at WVU Davis College

Photo of man in nature

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Leaving home and family to go to college can be difficult for many incoming freshmen. The same can also be true for students graduating from the  West Virginia University   Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

Originally from Kent, Ohio, Riley Pierce will graduate from the WVU Davis College with a bachelor’s degree in  forest resources management before leaving for his full-time job as a utility forester in Virginia. 

“I’ll definitely miss the Davis College and the family atmosphere,” Pierce said. “Every time I walk around the Agricultural Sciences Building or Percival Hall, I constantly run into people I know. I’ll miss the people and the atmosphere most.”

Pierce chose WVU because it had the best program for his career path and was close to his hometown. Since coming to WVU, he was mentored by  Greg Dahl, professor of arboriculture and urban forestry. 

Photo of man standing with poster

“All the professors in forestry are very kind and open,” he said. “Dr. Greg Dahle had the biggest impact on me, though. He helped me through the research apprentice program my freshman year. I have an area of emphasis of arboriculture and in urban forestry, which he teaches. He’s a fun professor, a good teacher and a great mentor. He even helped me find a job in utility forestry.”

Dahle also helped Pierce obtain internships at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Pierce worked as a conservationist doing preventative work for wildfires, living in the wilderness on the side of mountain. Dahle also found an internship for him with Dominion Energy in Virginia, which offered Pierce a full-time job after graduation. 

Pierce hopes to become a certified arborist and obtain his license after a year in the field. In a few more years, he said he would like to get his masters in arboriculture or urban forestry. 

“I would say to current students that it’s very important to try,” he added. “I think there’s a lot of pessimism that makes people not want to try. College is a place where if you try and put in effort, you’ll benefit. Your effort isn’t going for nothing.”

Photo of man climbing tree

Pierce tried many things while in college. He founded the first tree climbing club at WVU after joining and becoming president of the Society of American Foresters. He also worked as a Davis College ambassador for the forestry program and worked on two research projects with professors. 

Because of all his efforts, he received the WVU Foundation Outstanding Senior Award.

The Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design envisions a world sustainably fed, clothed and sheltered. To learn more about the Davis College, visit Keep up with the latest updates and news on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube by following @WVUDavis.



Interim Director of Marketing and Communications
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design