Carl A. Schenck

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Carl A. Schenck
Carl Schenck1905.jpg
Carl Schenck in German riding costume, 1905
Born March 25, 1868
Darmstadt, Germany
Died May 17, 1955
Germany
Residence Asheville, North Carolina; Hessen
Citizenship Germany
Nationality German
Fields Forestry
Institutions Biltmore Forest School
Alma mater University of Giessen
Known for Forester, George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate 1895-1909; Founder, Biltmore Forest School
Author abbrev. (botany) C.A.Schenck

Carl Alwyn Schenck (March 25, 1868 – May 17, 1955) was a pioneering forestry educator in North America, known for his contributions as the forester for George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate, and the founder of the Biltmore Forest School, the first practical forestry school in the United States, in 1898, near Asheville, NC.

Education and early life[edit]

Schenck was born in 1868 in the town of Darmstadt, Germany. From his youth he looked to forestry as a career, graduating from the Institute of Technology in Darmstadt at age 18. Two years later he enrolled for graduate study at the forest school of the University of Giessen. At Giessen he studied for a time under visiting professor Sir Dietrich Brandis, an influential German-born forester who had played a large part in introducing forestry into the British Empire, working in the forests of India and various other places. Brandis also had a great interest in forestry work in the United States. Schenck completed his Ph.D. degree at the beginning of 1895, and was at that time recommended by Brandis for a job in the United States working for George W. Vanderbilt. Schenck decided to accept the offer from Vanderbilt and sailed to America, arriving in New York City on April 5, 1895.

Carl A. Schenck (far right), with Sir William Schlich and students, Saxony, 1892

Biltmore[edit]

George W. Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate near Asheville, North Carolina, included some 120,000 acres (490 km2) of mountain land. With these extensive forest land holdings, Vanderbilt had decided during the early 1890s that he wanted his forests managed using the best scientific principles of forestry. At this time there were only two trained foresters in the U.S.: American Gifford Pinchot and German Bernard Fernow. When Schenck arrived in America at Vanderbilt's request, he became the third.

Schenck took over the position of Biltmore Estate forester, and immediately got to work managing the vast land holdings. Schenck worked on various forest plantations, setting up tree nurseries, seed extraction and regeneration efforts, logging areas and sawmills, as well as splash dams and fish hatcheries in the rivers. Schenck used new scientific management and practical forestry techniques which had never before been applied to American forests.

In 1898, with the permission of George Vanderbilt, Schenck founded the Biltmore Forest School, the first forestry school in the United States, on the Biltmore Estate grounds. Opening on September 1 of that year, the school offered a one-year course of study, and the curriculum focused on providing traditional classroom lectures in silvicultural theory supplemented with extensive hands-on, practical forest management field training. The school operated successfully on the Biltmore grounds from 1898 to 1909, turning out many of the leading American foresters over this time period.

In November 1908, Schenck hosted the Biltmore Forest Fair, designed to demonstrate to visitors the accomplishments and possibilities of scientific management and practical forestry techniques as well as to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his Forest School. The 3-day festival on the Biltmore grounds featured between 50 and 100 guests, and successfully demonstrated the real-life results of Schenck’s forestry and conservation practices.

In 1909, after a falling-out with Vanderbilt, Schenck left his position at Biltmore, taking his school with him. The school would operate in various locations until 1913. Schenck's sustainable management theories and hands-on training would influence forestry education in the U.S. for generations.

Death and legacy[edit]

Schenck spent much of the rest of his life traveling throughout the world giving lectures on scientific forestry. He made his last visit to the United States in 1952. He died in Germany on May 15, 1955, at the age of 87. Schenck's teachings have proven to be the foundation of forestry education in America,[citation needed] and his contributions to the field have long outlived his own life.

Further reading[edit]

  • Schenck, Carl Alwin, Cradle of Forestry in America: The Biltmore Forest School introduction by Steven Anderson (1998)

See also[edit]

Publications[edit]

Schenk wrote:

  • Our Yellow Poplar (1896)
  • Forestry for Kentucky (1899)
  • Forest Utilization (1904)
  • Biltmore Lectures on Sylviculture (1905)
  • Forest Management (1907)
  • Forest Policy (1911)

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]