Kent, OH – Employees of The Davey Tree Expert Company are now eligible for a new company scholarship designed to help them earn an associate’s degree through Kent State University’s environmental management program.

The Davey Foundation will pay 80 percent of the tuition cost each time an employee registers and is accepted into Kent State’s online program. Employees who continue working for Davey two years upon graduation qualify to receive the additional 20 percent of tuition reimbursement from the Foundation.

“Davey educates its employees, and has for over 100 years, to strengthen all aspects of the company,” said Karl Warnke, Davey’s chairman, president and CEO. “Improved safety, efficiency and client relations all start with a single, well-educated employee.”

Davey and Kent State partnered to create the program in 2009. The two-year associate’s degree requires completion of 27 credit hours of documented, on-the-job training at Davey and 34 credit hours of online classes through Kent State.

Employees at Davey can earn credits applied to the degree by taking company-offered extension programs, including attending the month-long Davey Institute of Tree Sciences. Through D.I.T.S., employees study biological sciences, tree and plant care, disease diagnoses, climbing and safety procedures and management techniques. D.I.T.S. is Davey’s flagship training program and was founded in the winter of 1908 with its inaugural class graduating from what was then a three-month program in 1909.

RJ Laverne, Davey’s manager of education and training, said employees in the associate program can complete the online courses at Kent State while simultaneously attending D.I.T.S. and other company extension programs.

“Davey’s legacy of educating the arboriculture workforce dates back over a century, and the fact it continues today shows our commitment to help shape the industry’s best and brightest,” Laverne said. “Few companies have departments dedicated to education or college degree programs in partnership with an outstanding public university.”

The Davey side of the degree program is focused on arboriculture, horticulture and the disciplines Davey is associated with professionally, Laverne said.

Kent State’s portion of the program includes a mix of business, psychology, sociology and other college courses. Once completed, the credits earned for the associate’s degree can be applied toward Kent State’s bachelor’s degree program in technical and applied studies.

Davey employees may take up to two classes, or six hours, at a time to apply for the scholarship. Individuals who apply must also be employed full-time for at least one year prior to applying. Otherwise, employees from all Davey companies and regions are eligible.

The associate’s degree program celebrated its first graduate, Brian Edwards, in May 2014. Edwards is a utility account supervisor for Davey in North Carolina.