Based on Dr. Carl Alwin Schenck's memoir Cradle of Forestry in America, AMERICA'S FIRST FOREST: CARL SCHENCK AND TEH ASHEVILLE EXPERIMENT examines the pivotal role played by pioneering forestry educator Carl Schenck and his founding of America's first school of forestry-the Biltmore Forest School. Through archival photos, historical re-enactments and contemporary interviews, the documentary recounts how Schenck, a German forester, came to America in 1895 to manage the forests at George Vanderbilt's Biltmore Estate in western North Carolina. With more than 100,000 acres of woodland to oversee and replant, Schenck began hiring young men to help with the work. After three years of answering their questions while on the job, the forester decided to teach them in a more formal setting and established the first forestry school in the United States. Schenck lectured in the mornings and students worked the land in the afternoons, gaining practical forestry training in a one-year program. Despite eventually being dismissed by Vanderbilt and returning to Germany, Schenck's unheralded leadership while at the Biltmore Forest (now preserved and celebrated as the Cradle of Forestry in America) was central to the conservation movement and the emergence of professional forestry.
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