Ralph E. Brock

February 15, 1881 - December 9, 1959

Ralph Elwood Brock was among the first class of foresters to graduate from the Pennsylvania State Forestry Academy (now Penn State Mont Alto) in 1906. But this was not the only first….Ralph is believed to be the first African American to be trained in the field of forestry in the United States.

After graduation from the Howard School in Wilmington, DE, he became a student at Mont Alto. It is believed Brock’s interest in plants was cultivated by his high school principal, a friend of Dr. Joseph Rothrock. While employed at the former Mont Alto Reserve, now Michaux State Forest, Brock’s passion for forestry grew, and he became a student of forestry at the school.

Upon graduation, Brock served as the Mont Alto State Forest Nursery Superintendent from 1906 to 1911. He established and oversaw a nursery at the campus, where records indicate he perfected the idea of using compost as an amendment to maintain healthy soil. He then entered the field of private forestry, serving the Chester and Philadelphia county area, along with New York City. An historic marker about Brock’s life can be found at the Penn State Mont Alto Campus.