State University of New York at Morrisville

Dr. Walid H. Shayya
School of Agriculture and Natural Resouces

Course Outline for RREN 421



Fall 2018

Blackboard Access of Course Material On-line (for students enrolled in the course)



Instructors' Contact Information

Dr. Walid H. Shayya, Ph.D.
Prof. Bill Snyder
Prof. Brendan Kelly


RREN 421 is a senior-level course in the Renewable Resources Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) program. It is offered during the first ten weeks of the fall semester in which students are expected to master the application of geospatial technology to natural resources management through independent and group projects.  It is a capstone course where many of the college forested land will be inventoried using the methodology covered in RREN 420.  The course employs integrated approaches to the management and monitoring of forest land as well as the assessment of habitat resources for wildlife management through its focus on a new college property each year. Geospatial technologies including the global positioning system (GPS), geographic information system (GIS), and remote sensing are combined with field-tested, scientifically-based principles that provide an integrated approach to natural resources management of the forest.

Prerequisite: RREN 420
2 credit (1 lecture hour, 5 laboratory hours), fall semester, first ten weeks


Upon the successful completion of RREN 421, students will have

  1. Developed inventory systems that account for standing trees, culls, and snags; herbaceous vegetation; tree regeneration; soils; the presence of wildlife; and anthropomorphic access ways.

  2. Identified and described existing floral communities with respect to tier classification, taxonomic grouping, and wetland indicator category status.

  3. Gathered georeferenced overstory and understory forest inventory data as well as cover-type data using field data recorders.

  4. Analyzed data using appropriate GIS software to delineate project area boundaries, summarize represented cover types, estimate probable compartment units, and establish transect baselines for upland, wetland, and riparian ecosystems.

  5. Compared their results against tabulated standards for wetland areas, riparian buffer strips, wildlife habitat needs, and habitat fidelity.

  6. Determined appropriate goal-oriented management strategies suggested by their data analyses.

  7. Explored (through the application of visualization software) different management strategies based upon the interrelationships among measured forestry and habitat resources parameters.

  8. Created and presented professional quality reports of their field work, results, and management analyses.


Each of the course instructors has a minimum of five designated office hours per week. The times will be shared with the students during the first class meeting (also posted on the instructor’s office door). If necessary, students are encouraged to make appointments to see any of the instructors at other times.


The following represent some of the many instructional methods to be followed in RREN 421:

  1. Weekly report presentation and question/answer session.

  2. Reading assignments.

  3. Written weekly reports of project activities.

  4. A group field and computer laboratory project.

  5. Reading current literature related to the covered topics.


RREN 421 is a two-credit hour course that meets for the first ten weeks of the semester (Part term A).  It includes one scheduled contact hour per week with the instructors for oral weekly presentations/discussions and five hours of independent laboratory work.  The class meets weekly with the instructors on Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. in Room 208, Bicknell Hall.


The course manual from RREN 420 will provide all the necessary reference material for successfully completing this course. These include the instructors' lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations (printed in handout format), pertinent reading material, and printouts of the laboratory exercises. Course material will also be available on-line under WebCT, accessible only by those students who are enrolled in the course. Numerous resources are also available at the college library and on-line. Students are encouraged to be actively involved in acquiring some pertinent knowledge from all available resources. The following publication (utilized in RREN 303) will also serve as a reference:

  1. Bolstad, P.  2016.  GIS Fundamentals: A First Textbook on Geographic Information Systems (5th Edition).  Eider Press, Minnesota. 

  2. Law, M. and A. Collins.  2015. Getting to Know ArcGIS for Desktop (4th Edition, for ArcGIS 10.2 and 10.3).  ESRI Press, Redlands, California.  


Most of the required material and equipment needed to complete project activities will be provided by the instructors (blaze orange must be worn in the field).  The students are asked to prepare a list of what is needed to carry out project activities (could be based on what was used in RREN 420) and have that list submitted to the instructors by noon on Friday, August 31, 2018.  Students will have to sign out the required material/equipment from the instructors, be responsible to keep all equipment in good condition, and return all equipment and non-consumables to the instructors by week 10 of the semester.  Additionally, students are required to provide the following materials:

  1. Field notebook.

  2. RREN 420 class manual.

  3. RREN 420 project material and notes.

  4. Appropriate dress for scheduled field operations and work (to be discussed during the first class meeting).


Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Disability Services (DS) office immediately to register for services and receive a Notification of Disabilities form. Once you have this form, we will meet privately, to discuss your specific needs.   Although you may register for services at any time, please attempt to make arrangements within the first two weeks of the semester so all appropriate academic accommodations can be set. 



Evaluation is a shared responsibility between the teacher and the student. The purpose of the evaluation is to demonstrate how well the professor has taught and the student has learned specific course materials, the principles, concepts, and terms relevant to the covered topics.  Evaluation is also intended to assess the student's ability to utlize the acquired knowledge and how s/he can use this knowledge in problem-solving.

In RREN 421, each student will contribute to a group project assigned by the instructors. Students will be expected to present their projects during week 11 of the semester. The project will be worth eighty percent (80%) of the grade. Work on the project ought to be completed during the five hours set aside each week for RREN 421 when the students work independently (or as a group) to collect, document, compile, and analyze field data. The full involvement and participation of students in all project and other pertinent class activities is paramount. Each student’s involvement in the project is done in a manner that contributes to the achievement of the overall objectives of the course. Weekly reports on progress by all students will be required and will be the basis for evaluating the student's attitude and full participation in project activities. Weekly written and oral progress reports will account for another ten percent (10%) of the total course grade. Failure to maintain full participation in project activities will result in the student receiving a substantially lower grade or even potentially failing the course.

The breakdown of grading in this course will be as follows: 

The distribution of grades in this course will be based on the A-F College grading scheme. The letter grades correspond to the following percentage scale: A (90-100%), A- (87-89.9%), B+ (83-86.9%), B (80-82.9%), B- (77-79.9%), C+ (73-76.9%), C (70-72.9%), C- (67-69.9%), D+ (63-66.9%), D (60-62.9%), and F (<60%).