Tech’s Austin O’Neal earns MOTAG South scholarship

Louisiana Tech senior Austin O’Neal, a Geographic Information System (GIS) and Forestry double major, has earned the Millyard Operating Technical Advancement Group (MOTAG) South scholarship of $3,000 for the 2021-22 academic year.

Considering the history of the scholarship, O’Neal’s accomplishment is no small feat.

MOTAG is a division of the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) organization, the technical arm of the American Paper and Pulp Association. For the scholarship, Tech applicants were up against 15 schools through the Southeast, “nearly all bigger and land-grant [institutions],” said Dr. Joshua Adams, Assistant Professor in Tech’s Department of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry in the College of Applied and Natural Sciences.

“The selection really hinges on the applicant’s essay and how the scholarship will help them develop in the professional organizations and clubs they are in,” Adams said. “I visited with our longest serving faculty member, and he can’t remember in the last couple decades having a student from Tech get this one.”

The purpose of the Scholarship Program is to aid as many deserving students as possible who have demonstrated a certain degree of scholastic achievement in the study of Forestry, Silviculture, or Land Management, and have some financial need.

The scholarships are open to all qualifying students about to enter their sophomore year or above at an accredited university in the Southeast or South Central United States. The major that the students intend to pursue must be in a wood-fiber-related field.

“Austin started as a GIS major and just added Forestry this year,” Adams said. “I worked with him to figure out how to do a double major after he decided he wanted to practice both GIS and Forestry. He’s been a great student and has that level of maturity and knowledge that seems to be lacking these days.”

“Adding a second major brought on a few extra quarters and lots of extra hours to take,” O’Neal said. “This scholarship will be a huge help in recouping some of those costs and to help me finish out the rest of my last year at Tech.

“I would love to spend my career using GIS to conserve our natural resources, forests, wildlife habitat, waterways, and wetlands.”

“Austin is a very diligent student, hard-working, very approachable, somehow laid-back and serious at once, and has a maturity and attitude that has earned him much respect and made him many friends,” Assistant Professor in Tech’s Department of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry Dr. Michael Crosby said. “I’m not surprised at his having earned this scholarship. It’s a wise investment in the education of someone who, I am sure, will be contributing to the field over the course of what will be a great career.”


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