The Society of American Foresters recognizes excellence and outstanding achievements of individuals and organizations in the field of forestry and natural resources.

Each year, through our National, Presidential Field Forester, and Fellow awards, SAF honors scientists, researchers, educators, innovators, leaders, communicators, field foresters, and others that have made significant impact on forestry in the United States and internationally. We also recognize our Student Diversity Scholars and Gregory Award winners.

SAF is pleased to recognize our 2023 award winners. 

For 2024: Award nominations will open in December and are due by March 1. If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

National Awards

Award in Forest Science — Dr. Pete Bettinger, CF
Barrington Moore Memorial Award in Biological Science — Dr. Carol Chambers
Carl Alwin Schenck Award — Dr. Pat Stephens Williams
Diversity Leadership Award — Dr. Zhu Hua Ning
Employer Leadership Award — Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Gifford Pinchot Medal — Dr. Victor Ford, CF
Honorary Membership Award — John Burke III
John A. Beale Memorial Award — Kenneth Laustsen, CF
Outstanding Local Unit Achievement Award — Colorado-Wyoming SAF
Outstanding Forestry Journalism Award — Doug Wood
Student Leadership Award — Christine Martens
Technology Transfer Award — Mariko Yamasaki
W. D. Hagenstein Communicator Award — Dr. James Lewis
Young Forester Leadership Award — Eli Jensen, CF

Award in Forest Science

Dr. Pete Bettinger, CF

The Award in Forest Science recognizes distinguished individual research in any branch of the quantitative, managerial, and/or social sciences that has resulted in substantial advances in forestry.

Pete Bettinger, CF, is a world leader in harvest scheduling and forest landscape planning. His collection of work involving forest harvest scheduling methods using heuristic and exact techniques has been recognized by the University of Georgia (Creative Research Medal) and the Southeastern Division of Society of American Foresters (Award of Excellence in Research and Development). He has navigated a long and successful career and has produced a number of papers illustrating the integration of ecosystem services (e.g., wildlife, aquatic resources, carbon) into harvest scheduling efforts. Pete has recently been recognized as one of two people worldwide who are authors of the main works related to forest landscape management and spatial forest planning. He was included in the recent Stanford University list of the top 2% of the most-cited scientists in the world. 

Pete is a productive and innovative researcher in heuristic forest management planning and has worked on projects funded by the Department of Defense, USDA Forest Service, and other organizations. He has authored 7 textbooks, 178 peer-reviewed journal articles, 22 book chapters, and 11 technical proceedings.

The work conducted by Pete and his colleagues has led to considerable debate within the research community regarding the value of heuristic forest management methods for the development of forest plans. Subsequent works by Pete on both exact approaches to solving forest management problems (mixed integer programming) and heuristic approaches have been developed to advance science in both areas. His research efforts have had a significant impact not only the course of research in the discipline but also in some areas of the practice of forestry. He has also significantly influenced the development of research aimed at harvest scheduling and economic analysis of contemporary forest management issues facing forests in China and Turkey. Therefore, the scope of his work is widespread both nationally and internationally.  
A few words from Dr. Bettinger:
As I reflect on how my research program has evolved over the last thirty-five years, I am grateful that the issues my colleagues and I have investigated have been both personally and professionally enriching. Certainly, I have only achieved success as a researcher due to collaborations with colleagues at Virginia Tech, Oregon State University, Mississippi State University, Cal Poly Humboldt, and the University of Georgia, as well as the assistance of friends and colleagues from forestry research groups in China, Turkey, Iran, and the Czech Republic. The creativity and guidance they have offered throughout our adventures in the science of forest management has been invaluable.

Most of the time, conducting research in the field of forest management and planning has been enjoyable, but as I tell my students, science is hard. There are times when the challenges posed by the scientific process has been demanding, yet often these demands were overcome with the assistance of very talented colleagues. Before my career comes to an end, I am uncertain whether I can address all of my personal research interests, or solve any of society's pressing forest management problems. However, I look forward to the last few years of my journey and the beneficial works that my colleagues and I might add to the conversation that informs the management of forests. With respect to everything my colleagues and I have produced over the last three or four decades, receiving the Award in Forest Science is a great honor, and I sincerely thank the Society of American Foresters for this recognition.

Barrington Moore Memorial Award in Biological Science

Dr. Carol Chambers

The Barrington Moore Memorial Award recognizes outstanding achievement in biological research leading to the advancement of forestry.

Carol Chambers is a leading wildlife biology researcher with clear impacts on the field of forestry by increasing our knowledge and understanding of wildlife habitat relationships. Her work has been applied to the management of endangered species and bats. She is a recognized leader in forest wildlife ecology, including the study of bats in the United States and Central America. She is the director of ecology of the Bat Ecology and Genetics Lab/Species from Feces Team, with a long-term bat ecology and habitat relationships research program. 

For almost 20 years, Carol’s research has focused on bats, resulting in 15 studies encompassing 22 southwestern bat species, including uncommon and rare species. Bats are essential for maintaining forest health because they are primary predators of night-flying insects. However, bats are currently facing unprecedented population declines in the United States and Canada due to an introduced fungus that causes the disease white-nose syndrome. The mission of the Bat Ecology and Genetics Lab/Species from Feces Team is to leverage genetic approaches for global bat species conservation. Species from Feces developed a robust genetic assay to identify bat species from their feces, which she and her lab have applied globally working with many partners to improve bat conservation and management. The lab itself, which Carol led the development of, is an innovation in using novel genetic approaches to address wildlife conservation that is contributing high-quality research on an international scale. 

Carol’s research is innovative and diverse, using a variety of field methods, analyses, and lab techniques including mark-recapture, track plating, occupancy modeling, radio telemetry, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating, and genetics. These tools help develop a stronger ecological understanding of wildlife and support those in the management and conservation fields. Often, resource managers with state, tribal, and federal agencies have limited information about the species that they must manage. She works to increase available ecological knowledge and recommend management approaches that support wildlife populations. Carol’s research has been published in high-quality journals and funded through a diversity of sources. She is known nationally and internationally as a leading wildlife biologist and a demonstrated leader, recently serving as President of The Wildlife Society.  She also led the publication of a book, Women in Wildlife Science: Building Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

A few words from Dr. Chambers:

When I learned that I was selected to receive the Barrington Moore Memorial Award, I was astounded, honored, and thrilled. I’ve enjoyed my career as a forest wildlife ecologist for decades (I’m not saying how many) and this recognition tells me that my work has proved meaningful in our profession. For me, any day outside is a better day, so I already feel like I’ve won a lottery – I have a job I love that takes me outside. To be able to observe, study, interpret, and relay knowledge about forests and wildlife to other researchers, resource managers, and the public has expanded the joy of a day outside to a profession that I’ve found incredibly rewarding.

During my career, I’ve been able to research species ranging from the largest carnivorous bat in the Americas to an endangered rodent, all while examining how forest practices affect wildlife habitat and through collaborations with tribal, federal, state, and non-governmental partners. I have also been able to follow an interest that grew from my graduate student days when I was one of few women in forestry – an interest in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Along with papers I’ve published on habitat relationships, I’ve written and edited a book about equity for women in the wildlife profession.

Receiving the Barrington Moore Memorial Award has me reflecting on my work and feels like a wonderful validation of my interests from forest and wildlife management to the importance in our profession of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Carl Alwin Schenck Award

Dr. Pat Stephens Williams

The Carl Alwin Schenck Award recognizes devotion and demonstrated outstanding performance in the field of forestry education.

Pat Stephens Williams is an exemplary forestry educator. Pat conducts conservation work through environmental education summer camps, formal curriculum training such as Project Learning Tree, and agency work for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Her instructional record includes 34 undergraduate and graduate level courses, including 9 newly developed courses, across 3 higher education institutions. Throughout her career, she has developed a teaching style and philosophy that has made significant contributions to students and the field of forestry education. She teaches the sophomore-level Introduction to Human Dimensions course every semester with an enrollment of up to 80 students. She championed getting this course into the State of Texas core curriculum as a Social and Behavioral Science option, a first for forestry courses at Stephen F. Austin State University. 

Pat uses the outdoors as her classroom and inculcates service learning into her courses, even the introductory courses. She exemplifies the ideal that students learn to conserve natural resources as they connect through service. Her students have been called upon throughout Texas for parks and recreation programming, trail development and maintenance, historic site preservation, and human dimensions survey implementation and analysis. 

Pat was also integral in developing her university’s master of science in resource communications program twenty years ago. This fully online degree was a first-of-its-kind program that met the needs of human dimensions professionals who were working in parks and recreation areas throughout the country. She serves as the graduate coordinator of this program, responsible for curriculum development, marketing and recruitment, course scheduling, and assessment. Graduates from this program now serve in leadership roles throughout the country in the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, as well as state and municipal parks and recreation areas. Her impact to scores of graduates has been a significant contribution to the profession and will continue to yield dividends for many years.
A few words from Dr. Stephens Williams:

I am profoundly surprised, humbled and grateful to receive this prestigious award. SAF has been a guide in my career since I was a student and many of my efforts and achievements have been tied to SAF members and membership. As a student, professor, and SAF member I have worked with and served SAF in many capacities and the organization has certainly served me. I must give credit to all of the students that have inspired me to always want to find ways to inspire them. They are why I do what I do – to help them discover their strengths, their career paths, and generally their place in the world. It has and is an honor to have had a moment in their lives. Thank you to everyone who has mentored me to reach this pinnacle of my career.

Diversity Leadership Award 

Dr. Zhu Hua Ning

The Diversity Leadership Award recognizes outstanding individual achievement leading to innovative and exemplary diversity and inclusion efforts. 

Zhu Hua Ning, a distinguished educator and leader in urban forestry, environmental studies, and natural resources, holds the position of professor and chair at Southern University and A&M College, an esteemed historically black university (HBCU) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Recognized with the USDA and Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Excellence in College and University Teaching Award in 2016, Zhu Hua’s dedication to exemplary teaching underscores her enduring commitment to student growth and excellence. Beyond her scholastic expertise, Zhu's mentorship as the White House HBCU All Stars Mentor has been instrumental in preparing African American students for the forestry and natural resources workforce, bolstering diversity in the field. As an officer of the SAF Diversity and Inclusion Working Group in 2017-2021, Zhu Hua’s leadership has garnered Outstanding Working Group Awards from the SAF Forest Science and Technology Board.  

Her influence is evident through multiple diversity-themed SAF national convention sessions and fostering cultural connections. In 2011, Zhu Hua is the first Asian American elected to the board of the International Society of Arboriculture, extending her global impact. Her strategic contributions to ISA's diversity, ethics, education, and research standards earned her the ISA Alex L. Shigo Award for Excellence in Arboricultural Education in 2017.  

Zhu Hua's legacy encompasses leadership roles in the National Association of University Forest Resource Program, the SAF National Committee on Cultural Diversity, and initiatives addressing urban forestry, climate change, and environmental disparities.  

With a doctoral degree from Stephen F. Austin State University and decades of teaching at Southern University, Zhu Hua’s research projects have address climate change, environmental issues, and urban forestry contribution to community health, especially for the communities that are disproportionally affected by environmental problems. Her journey is punctuated by honors including the 1890 Association of Extension Administrators and Association of Research Directors Certificate of Recognition and the Louisiana Governor's acknowledgment for FEMA-HBCU community emergency preparedness efforts. In summary, Zhu Hua’s initiatives in education, diversity, and environmental advocacy have solidified her status as a catalyst for positive change within academia and the forestry sector. 

A few words from Dr. Zhu Hua:
I am humbled by this award and profoundly appreciative of being recognized. I would like to express my deep gratitude to the SAF and its award selection panel for selecting me among the highly competitive and outstanding nominees. I am honored that the SAF DEI Working Group leadership team nominated me, and I thank them for sharing with me the five nomination letters written by Jamie Dahl, Rachel Renya, Susan Stout, Alex Appeaning, and Brittany Benjamin. Their letters warmed my heart. This award motivates me to expand my efforts in DEI. I hope that through our passion, the DEI will leap forward to a bright future in forestry and natural resources profession. 

Employer Leadership Award

Sustainable Forestry Initiative

The Employer Leadership Award recognizes an employer that demonstrates leadership through consistent support of employee participation in SAF and broad engagement in the profession. 

Watch this video to hear a few words from SFI. 

Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) shares many goals and core values with the Society of American Foresters (SAF). SFI's four pillars – Conservation, Standards, Education, and Community Engagement – mirror the vital facets essential for advancing forestry and enhancing the understanding of forest resources. This alignment extends to the elevation of underrepresented groups within the profession, nurturing green careers, and fostering natural resources education. The symbiotic relationship between SFI and SAF is exhibited not only through shared ideals but also through tangible actions. SFI's committed workforce, many of whom are dedicated SAF members, demonstrates an unswerving allegiance to the profession. This allegiance is exemplified by widespread support encompassing membership dues, direct engagement, and the bringing together of professional values. SFI has additionally supported specific policy objectives of SAF, which frequently align with SFI objectives.

SFI has developed a variety of products that illustrate our commitment to and impact on the forestry profession. Through this work, SFI has encouraged young people to pursue careers in forestry and conservation. For example, they collaborated with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to produce “Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers.” The guide highlights 22 Black Americans who share their personal stories about finding their passions and overcoming challenges, and offers advice to the next generation exploring their own careers in the forest and conservation sector. The project was overseen by an SFI-MANRRS Advisory Committee, which included SAF Chief Executive Officer Terry Baker.

Through its Project Learning Tree (PLT) program, SFI partnered with SAF to develop a short course on ForestEd.org called “Teaching Youth and Communities about Forests.” The course uses several of PLT’s popular activities to help SAF members effectively convey forest conservation topics to diverse audiences, such as clients, customers, influential decision-makers, and others. PLT, with support from SAF, developed a middle- and high-school focused activity guide titled, “Green Jobs: Exploring Forest Careers.” It includes four hands-on instructional activities that help youth explore forest-related careers.  As a recipient of the Employer Leadership Award, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative exemplifies a distinguished commitment to fostering a thriving community of forestry professionals. 
A few words from SFI:
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s mission to advance sustainability through forest-focused collaboration is powered by hard-working and passionate professionals, many of which are proud members of SAF. SFI is pleased to support employee participation in SAF and promote meaningful engagement in the profession.

For example, Rocco Saracina, SFI’s Senior Manager Partnerships and Development, serves as Vice Chair of SAF’s National Diversity and Inclusion Working Group where he contributes to member programing and develops collaborative opportunities that advance visibility and dialogue for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Rocco also provides leadership on SAF’s Diversity Scholar Program, which offers support for diverse youth to attend the SAF Convention. Nadine Block, SFI’s Senior VP of Community and Government Relations, is serving in her fourth year on the SAF National Nominating Committee, including two years as chair, through which she recruits and reviews candidates to serve on the SAF Board. Nadine is also an active participant in the Portland, Oregon, SAF chapter.

SFI is honored to receive the SAF Employer Leadership Award and will remain unwavering in its commitment to supporting employees in pursuing professional development and giving back to their communities.

Photo Caption: Nadine Block, SFI’s SVP, Community and Government Relations, engaging youth on sustainable forestry at Philmont Scout Ranch

Gifford Pinchot Medal

Dr. Victor Ford, CF

The Gifford Pinchot Medal recognizes outstanding contributions by a forestry professional in the administration, practice, and professional development of forestry in North America.

Watch this video to hear a few words from Dr. Ford. 

Victor Ford’s 41-year career has been in university extension, silviculture research for industry, and university administration. Throughout this career, he has been a highly active and impactful member of SAF. He organized the SAF Leadership Academy, served as chair of the West Virginia SAF, and served on the SAF ethics committee.

At the outset of his career, he worked as an extension specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. In that appointment, he provided forest management guidance to foresters and forest landowners statewide through presentations, fact sheets, and direct interactions. During that time, he served as chair of the Southwest Arkansas SAF chapter and the executive committee member of the Arkansas SAF section. As his career moved into industry research, Victor worked in a leadership capacity as a senior scientist and project leader for Westvaco/MeadWestvaco. He oversaw projects that were instrumental in bringing new herbicides and uses of herbicides into forest management and numerous improvements in fertility management of pine and hardwood plantations. 

He returned to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture in an administrative capacity, where he has worked for the past 15 years. For eight years, Victor was director of the Southwest Research Station and Extension Center, where he oversaw faculty conducting forestry and animal science research and extension. Victor was then promoted to associate vice president of agriculture and natural resources, where he has far-reaching influence on extension and research programs for all agriculture and natural resource commodities of Arkansas. He will retire from this role at the end of this year. 

Victor’s commitment to forestry ethics continues; he is a frequent presenter on forestry ethics to SAF and Arkansas Forestry Association meetings and webinars. Victor is currently the District 9 representative to the SAF Board of Directors. He has earned several accolades from SAF during this phase of his career, including Fellow, Forestry Educator of the Year, and the Ouachita SAF Lifetime Achievement Award.
A few words from Dr. Ford:

I am humbled by and appreciative of this award. I am incredibly grateful to my nominators, Mike Blazier, Larry Nance, and Pete Prutzman. I am blessed by the Creator to work in a field where I can see His handiwork daily. This award is a testament to my mentors and colleagues that helped me in my career and showed me the value of participating in SAF. I have been friends with many of the previous winners and humbled to be considered as one of their number.

I thank my wife, Cindy, for her love and support and for being my biggest supporter and recognize my children and grandchildren for their part in this journey. I was blessed to have parents that insisted on instilling a work ethic and taught me strong values. I am grateful for my major professors showing me how to be a researcher and faculty teaching me how to be a forester. Kerry Schell was instrumental in me being involved with student SAF at Tennessee and Dave Smith encouraged me to get involved nationally. I will always be appreciative of their tutelage. Westvaco and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture allowed and encouraged me to be active in my professional society and I am thankful for this support.

Networking and relationships are as important as silviculture and mensuration in creating a successful career. Our professional society is the platform that creates networks and relationships that lead to success.

Honorary Membership Award 

John Burke, III

The Honorary Membership Award recognizes individuals whose contributions to forestry are viewed as outstanding by their peers. 

John Burke, III, is a 6th-generation forest landowner from Caroline County, Virginia. He is a retired attorney and manager of Burke Woodlands, his family's 3,000-acre tree farm, and is passionate about forestry. John is a lifetime member of the Virginia Forestry Association (VFA), serving on its board several times between 1999 and 2005, ultimately serving as resident in 2006. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded the VFA President's Award in 2006 and the VFA Distinguished Service Award in 2017. 

John has also served the Commonwealth of Virginia as a member of former Governor Mark Warner's 2004 task force to study improving the profitability of agriculture and forestry, and on its governor-appointed board of forestry from 2010 to 2021. This group advises the leadership of the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDF) on current and relevant issues and serves as a liaison between private forest landowners and the VDF. John also co-chaired the Board of Forestry's Hardwood Subcommittee from 2015 to 2021 and served as chair in 2019 to 2021. 

John encourages public awareness and involvement in forestry-related activities and strives to educate the public, including children, about trees. Burke Woodlands has hosted a forest and logging visit for Virginia’s Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Virginia Tech Forestry Extension Forest Landowner Bus Tours, and Future Farmers of America regional forestry judging competitions. He has spoken publicly many times on forestry issues, including testifying before US Congress committees on several occasions on forestry and renewable energy issues, presentations to Ruritan and Rotary groups, presentations on woodland law at Germanna Community College, and a presentation at a National American Tree Farm System meeting in North Carolina. 

John also wrote an article titled, “Forestry and the Law” for the magazine American Tree Farmer. He created and hosted “Kids in the Woods,”™ an outdoor teaching classroom for third-grade children in which 1,200 Caroline County students participated and “Geometry in the Wood.,”™ an educational program for high school mathematics students. John has managed his family’s forestlands in an exceptional manner -winning the Virginia Tree Farmer of the Year Award in 2001 and the US Southern Regional Tree Farmer of the Year Award in 2002. 
A few words from Burke:

As I reflect on receiving the SAF Honorary Membership Award, I am reminded of the many people with whom we have worked in managing our family’s forestland.  As a private forest landowner, our family has worked hard over many years to manage its forestland in a healthy and sustainable manner. We have had the pleasure of working with many excellent foresters in connection with our family’s land and in connection with numerous forestry organizations. We have learned that it is important to seek the input of forestry professionals in planning and carrying out work on the land. 

Our consulting forester is a member of SAF and he has been a trusted advisor for more than 20 years. I have also had the good fortune to work with many members of SAF who have distinguished themselves in their service to forestry organizations, associations and institutions.  In my experience, SAF members have played key roles with and been trusted advisors to: The Virginia Department of Forestry, The Virginia Board of Forestry, Virginia Tech, The Virginia Forestry Association, and The American Forest Foundation.

SAF should be proud of these members and should continue to encourage its members to be the trusted advisors to landowners who wish to manage their forestland in a healthy and sustainable way. My hat is off to SAF and I greatly appreciate receiving the Honorary Membership Award.

Photo Right: John inspects 2 1/2 year old Loblolly Pines (containerized seedlings).
Photo Left: John and two grandsons check the progress of a Bald Cypress stand.

John A. Beale Memorial Award

Kenneth Laustsen, CF

The John A. Beale Memorial Award recognizes outstanding efforts over a sustained period of time by an SAF member in the promotion of forestry through voluntary service to the Society.

Kenneth Laustsen, CF, has served on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast SAF Leadership Academy Planning Committee since its inception in 2017. This effort has brought together members from Allegheny SAF (ANSAF), New England SAF (NESAF), and New York SAF (NYSAF). Through Kenneth’s thoughtful insights and input, ANSAF, NESAF, and NYSAF developed and executed the first regional Leadership Academy in 2018. He continues to be integral in the planning and delivery of program content for academies in 2019, 2022, and upcoming in 2023. He served as the committee chair in 2022 and 2023 and won a Foresters Fund Grant request for the 2022 training. The three academies have trained almost 70 individuals in leadership skills and the organizational workings of SAF. A large majority of participants were either already local leaders or have since stepped into a leadership role. 

The success of the academies rests in no small part on Kenneth’s sustained commitment and effort. As an excellent advocate for forestry education, Kenneth brought experience to technical forestry curricula on the SAF Committee on Forest Technology School Accreditation. His approach was one of collaboration, allowing for productive conversation and relevant critique. He was valued for always working toward positive solutions within the established standards and criteria, by critically evaluating and asking pertinent questions to understand each program fully within its unique institutional context. He was passionate about ensuring that accredited programs could produce top-quality graduates. Instructors who teach at the two-year level truly appreciate support from professionals like Kenneth who believe in our students and the role they play in the broad spectrum of forest management. He encouraged faculty members to stay current in their teaching methods and maintain a commitment to hands-on, field-based education, while insisting on budgetary support and professional development opportunities. 

A new generation of forest technicians and the lands they work on have benefited from his dedication to educational excellence. Kenneth brought that same passion for professional excellence to his tenure on the SAF Certification Review Board and it continues to be evident in his current work with the Educational Policy Review Committee. 

A few words from Laustsen:

Back in 1998, a professional colleague (Carol Redelsheimer) asked me to run for the elected position of the ME State Representative to the New England State Society Executive Committee and I was elected.  I had previously served on the ME planning committee for the 1995 National Convention in Portland, ME and as a Member-At-Large for the ME Division. That was the start of my involvement at the regional level, which continued in one form or another for the next 20+ years. Then in 2003, another professional colleague (Charles Levesque) asked if I would serve on the VOS-TF as a member-at-large and representing the New England region. I agreed and was appointed to the SAF National Task Force. This was the start of a 20+ year involvement at the national level, which has included multiple stints on national committees (CRB, FTSA, and EPRC) and multiple on-site accreditation visits to colleges with both 2-year and 4-year programs. Throughout this period, I had the opportunity and pleasure to work alongside other SAF members, who were also volunteers.

My closing thoughts are:
Never be afraid to ask someone to serve in a leadership role within the various SAF levels, they most likely will say yes because you are recognizing their leadership talents.
Serving as a volunteer within SAF allows you to meet so many other SAF members of a like-minded nature, allowing them to become colleagues and friends.
Photo: For a forestry referendum question in Maine, Laustsen created a “Bed of Nails” which represented the average stocking of Maine’s forested acre by tree seize and challenged anybody to harvest this acre in compliance with the regulations in the proposed referendum.

Outstanding Forestry Journalism Award

Doug Wood

The Outstanding Forestry Journalism Award recognizes high quality journalistic coverage of topics that increase the American public's understanding of forestry and natural resources.

Doug Wood is the director of communications for the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC), holding this position since 2014. Wood's contributions center on enhancing public awareness of forestry and natural resources through effective communication strategies. His role involves writing diverse articles for SCFC's Tree Country newsletter, highlighting agency achievements and collaborations that promote and safeguard South Carolina's forests. He also manages layout design and copy editing for these articles. Additionally, Doug oversees the Best of Tree Country quarterly magazine, curating top articles from the monthly newsletter.

Doug led the annual initiative Prescribed Fire Awareness Month, with press releases, media-invited prescribed burns, and educational material to underscore controlled burn benefits. He also initiated the CancelWildfiresSC Fire Prevention Month campaign, creating a dedicated website for fire prevention messaging and crafting radio and television scripts featuring notable sports figures. During a critical fire season in 2022, Doug's efforts secured Coach Dabo Swinney and Coach Shane Beamer for public service announcements about fire prevention. These public service announcements, broadcast on radio and television, emphasized forestry's economic impact, SCFC's role, landowner guidance, and wildfire mitigation strategies.

Doug's editorial skills are evident in the management of SCFC's publications, such as the Forest Trees of South Carolina book, and the Invasive Species of South Carolina Forests book, both receiving notable awards. His leadership extends to the Appalachian Society of American Foresters Annual Winter Meeting program, managing layout, cover design, speaker bios, and promotional content. Under his guidance, SCFC's information and education department earned seven South Carolina notable state document awards for informative publications. He also contributes editorials discussing forestry-related matters in local newspapers and websites across the state. 

In summary, Doug's tenure as SCFC's director of communications has been marked by initiatives that enhance public understanding of forestry and natural resources. Through articles, campaigns, publications, and editorials, he has consistently facilitated informed conversations and awareness in the realm of forestry.

A few words from Wood:

Before I joined the SC Forestry Commission nearly 10 years ago, I had no idea that forestry was even a college major, much less the expansive umbrella of specialties, careers, and topics that I now speak and write about for a living. When then-South Carolina State Forester Gene Kodama, also a former SAF president, hired me as his director of communications, he said he didn't want a forestry specialist for the job, but rather a layperson who would bring fresh eyes to the world of forestry and wildfire. I never imagined that I'd land such a dream job – especially one about whose subject matter I knew literally nothing – but I couldn't be happier that I did because it opened up a whole new world of knowledge for which I have become a passionate disciple. Having the opportunity to share with others the myriad environmental, economic, and societal benefits of forestry, not to mention the sacred mission of protecting our forest resources, is an honorable responsibility. This award is truly the highlight of my professional career, and I'm humbled and honored just to be mentioned alongside the esteemed practitioners who are receiving national recognition from the Society of American Foresters.

 Photo Left: Doug speaks to a reporter about the Pinnacle Mountain Fire, an extended wildfire incident in the upstate of South Carolina in 2016.

Outstanding Local Unit Achievement Award

Colorado-Wyoming State Society

The Outstanding Local Unit Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding achievement of a local unit for sustained leadership or a special project benefiting SAF, the forestry profession, and the practice of forestry. 

The Colorado-Wyoming State Society is recognized for the Outstanding Local Unit Achievement Award, attributed to their sustained leadership and impactful projects benefitting SAF, the forestry profession, and forestry practices. Functioning as a reliable pillar within District 4, the Colorado-Wyoming State Society offers support, mentorship, and guidance to various state societies. Their organizational growth and financial acumen have been noteworthy, highlighting their professionalism. Their influence spans across the forestry landscape, advocating for forestry, forest policy, and sound forest science. 

Collaborative efforts by Wyoming's chapters have resulted in a timber industry meeting that brings together Wyoming's industry and foresters from state and federal agencies. The Northern Wyoming Chapter's engagement in educational sign creation along highways highlight aspen enhancement projects, western spruce budworm, and forest health resilience. These signs are in visible places along major highways that tourists use to travel to and from Wyoming's National Parks. Planting the seed of education with the American public has become the chapter's mission. 

Colorado's chapters help plan a forest policy legislative get-together hosted through funds of the SAF chapters. This meeting with Colorado's legislative leadership has become an avenue to create positive change in Colorado's policies toward active forest management. Currently, Colorado has approximately 20 bills in their legislation that focus on Colorado's forests, timber industry, nursery, employees, and wildfire. The efforts and investment over the last two decades are paying off for Colorado's future forests. 

Colorado-Wyoming SAF’s transparent communication is facilitated through an updated Operations Handbook, active email correspondence, informative newsletters, and a comprehensive website. Membership values are upheld through an exemplary awards program, robust student chapter support, and scholarships. An innovative administrative chair role ensures leadership continuity. Efforts to promote diversity and professional growth include the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Women in Natural Resources Professional Workshop, and mentorship programs.
Strategic initiatives extend to hosting the 2024 National Convention in Loveland, Colorado. This indicates their commitment to financial stability and membership engagement. In sum, the Colorado-Wyoming State Society exemplifies consistent leadership and impactful initiatives.

A few words from the Chapter Leadership:

Thank you for acknowledging our group with the 2023 Local Unit Achievement Award. Between our two student chapters, working professionals, and retirees who remain active within our society, Colorado-Wyoming SAF continues to promote opportunities for its members to engage. It is an honor to be recognized by SAF with this award and it comes at an exciting time for our state’s society.  As our planning efforts ramp up over the next year, we are energized and excited to showcase our wonderful work during the National Convention in Loveland, Colorado in 2024. We hope to see you there!

Student Leadership Award

Christine Martens

The Student Leadership Award recognizes individual student achievement and leadership at the local, regional, or national level.

Watch this video to hear a few words from Christine Martens. 

Christine Martens’ exceptional journey in forestry and science communication has been marked by unwavering dedication and impactful leadership, leaving a lasting mark at both local and regional levels. From her initial role as treasurer to her ascent to co-president of Duke University's student chapter (Duke SAF), her tenure has been characterized by efficient communication, consistent meeting attendance, and proactive engagement. Christine's leadership impact has been instrumental in managing logistics and driving engagement. Her approach to delegation has expanded the leadership team, enhancing involvement and responsibility distribution. Beyond her student chapter, Christine represented Duke’s Masters of Forestry program in various capacities, including SAF re-accreditation meetings, faculty candidate interviews, and departmental discussions on program enhancement. Her notable achievements include securing perpetual funding for chainsaw certification and wildland firefighting training. Her adeptness in grant writing resulted in funding from a Foresters Fund grant for the Annual Forestry Symposium, as well as additional funding from the graduate and professional student government and the Nicholas School of the Environment effectively doubling their available budget. She played a role in revitalizing annual traditions and maintained a commendable academic record with a 4.0 GPA.

Her engagement extended to Appalachian SAF conferences and the mentorship program, facilitating connections within the forestry community. Christine's impact also reached the broader campus through orchestrated visits from notable forestry figures. Post-leadership, she remains committed to the Annual Forestry Symposium and maintains outreach to other student chapters and local forestry groups, expanding Duke SAF's network. Her contributions are evidenced by effective leadership, program enhancements, and resource mobilization. 

A few words from Martens:

It is a huge honor to receive this award, and it could not have come at a more inspiring time for me, as I embark on a new career with the USFS doing science communication for the Southern Research Station.

I hope to bring some of the lessons I learned as the co-president of the Duke Student SAF Chapter with me. I'd like to share this recognition with Andrea Kolorova, the other half of the Duke SAF co-presidency, who nominated me for this award but is equally deserving. I believe that sharing leadership roles allowed us to share administrative burdens allowing us both time for more creative freedom. With the help of our faculty advisor, Jeff Vincent, we pushed each other to achieve a new level of leadership in our chapter, reviving traditions that were lost due to the pandemic such as our dendrology competition and our annual day-long Symposium as well as pushing the administration for better support of the forestry program by securing funding in perpetuity for chainsaw and wildland firefighting training.

For me, forestry was a complete change in careers from chemical engineering.  After hiking some of the longest trails in the world including the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, I fell in love with mountains and forests and decided to go back to school to learn how to protect and manage these natural resources. I was drawn to Duke's program because of its reputation for producing great environmental leaders. Receiving this award not only helps to diminish my feelings of impostor entering this field, but also proves to me that I can thrive in a community that gives me so much joy.

Photo Right: Christine Martens graduating with a Master of Forestry!
Photo Left: Christine Martens holding an American Eel (
Anguilla rostrata) a survey done during her summer internship with the USFS.

Technology Transfer Award

Mariko Yamasaki

The Technology Transfer Award recognizes outstanding performance in the areas of technology transfer, implementation, and extension.

Mariko Yamasaki has been a prominent contributor in the field of technology transfer, implementation, and extension. With a tenure in the Northern Research Station's silviculture and wildlife team since the mid-1980s, she has been a pivotal figure in reshaping research and administrative activities at the Bartlett Experimental Forest and Massabesic Experimental Forest. Her influence has transformed these forests into well-regarded integrated silviculture and wildlife habitat programs. Mariko's primary research focus centers on early successional habitat value for diverse wildlife species. Her adeptness in translating research knowledge into practical tools for wildlife and silviculture practitioners has significantly impacted management practices across New England. 

Her expertise in technology transfer is evident in her extensive engagements, encompassing field tours, workshops, and individual consultations. She has received numerous awards, including the USDA Forest Service (USFS) Chief's Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer and the USFS Northeastern Research Station Director’s Award for Technology Transfer. Her scholarly output encompasses over 65 publications.

Working with Dick DeGraaf and others, Mariko was a key figure in translating the habitat findings of research conducted on forest songbirds, raptors, bats, terrestrial salamanders, coarse woody debris, and small mammals into a complete range of silviculture practices for northern hardwoods and oak-pine types. This innovative approach led to the development of two major forest wildlife habitat management guides; one is a detailed technical guide for professional foresters and wildlife biologists and the second is a less technical guide for landowners. Mariko also developed a matrix reference system that combines silvicultural-related stand conditions with wildlife species occurrence and utilization. These matrices are an innovative tool that enables practitioners to relate silvicultural techniques to specific wildlife habitat goals that are easily understood by forest managers accustomed to dealing with silvicultural characterizations. Mariko’s research and outreach efforts have had a considerable impact not only on the practice of silviculture and wildlife habitat management but also on the practitioners. 

She has provided consultation to diverse entities, including government agencies and private firms. Her mentoring contributions have left a lasting imprint on students and young professionals, particularly as a role model for diversity in the field. Mariko's impact has reverberated nationally and internationally, with collaboration requests from professionals across different countries. Her commitment to knowledge sharing underscores her dedication to advancing the field on a global scale.  
A few words from Yamasaki:
Delivering science-based integrated resource management information to busy professionals in the field has been an important part of my work since I joined the New England ecology and management of Northern Hardwoods research work unit 39 years ago. It required connecting the unmatched northern hardwoods silvicultural knowledge found in Bill Leak’s soil-site relationships research with the knowledge of forest wildlife habitats drawn from Dick DeGraaf’s research efforts; in all to better serve a growing public interest in managing wildlife diversity in New England forests.

Silviculture is the mechanism used to meet those wildlife habitat, biodiversity, carbon accumulation, and storage, visual, forest health, as well as timber quality/quantity objectives in a sustainable manner. Being able to lay out treatments to meet those objectives on the Bartlett Experimental Forest and follow them over time has given us many opportunities to demonstrate the value of an integrated approach to a variety of public, private, and industrial landowners, managers, and students. We address the resource management questions of the day by meeting people in the field and convening topical discussions so that folks can incorporate this understanding into their daily practices. I am ever so grateful for the years of collaboration with the many folks interested in integrated silviculture-forest habitat management in New England. I am deeply touched and honored that my Society of American Foresters colleagues and fellow practitioners value this effort with this award.

Photo Left: Touring the Bartlett Experimental Forest in Bartlett, NH with UNH forestry and wildlife professors and visiting forestry personnel from Bangladesh, June 2023.

W. D. Hagenstein Communicator Award

Dr. James Lewis

The Hagenstein Communicator Award recognizes an SAF member who leads innovative and exemplary communications initiatives and programs that increase the general public’s understanding of forestry and natural resources.

James Lewis has consistently demonstrated exceptional skill and versatility in communicating forestry-related content to diverse audiences over the past two decades. His initiatives not only reflect innovation but also a profound grasp of the connections between people, forests, and their relevance in contemporary times. As a national leader, he has spearheaded communication programs and projects that have significantly enhanced the public's understanding of forestry and natural resources on both local and national scales.

James’ involvement in the forestry profession spans a wide spectrum, embodying a standard of excellence that leaves a lasting impression. His impactful work is notably exemplified by the film "America’s First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment," a production that delves into the historical context of forestry. Beyond this, his contributions encompass activities such as grant seeking for distributing the film to SAF chapters across the country, being part of the editorial board of the Journal of Forestry, and reviewing extensive literature for publication.

While much of his work addresses natural resources professionals, James has been pivotal in equipping professionals with the tools and knowledge to engage the general public, educators, and youth. His film was not confined to forestry circles but reached broader audiences through public television and online outlets. Complementing the film, he developed middle school curriculum and ensured its accessibility by adding closed captioning in English and Spanish.

James extends his reach through speaking engagements, delivering valuable content to audiences ranging from New Hampshire to the Deep South. He pioneered a successful monthly webinar series, bringing forest history and societal messages to resource professionals and the public. Collaborating with experts including historians, resource professionals, artists, and policymakers, he has cultivated a diverse dialogue. His expertise extends to policy-related communications, where he has contributed to strategies informing policymakers. He is published in the Encyclopedia of World Environmental History and the Encyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy. His commentaries, including collaborations with Char Miller, have effectively reached policymakers through outlets like the Washington Post and local newspapers. His legacy lies in the intersection of communication excellence and meaningful personal connections that expand the reach and impact of forestry and natural resources understanding.

A few words from Dr. Lewis:
I’m not a forester but a historian who has spent the last twenty years at the Forest History Society reading, writing, and talking about—and to, and with—foresters and the essential work they do. For my work and efforts in history to be recognized by foresters is very meaningful. I have two communities I try to reach through my work. One is the general public. I give lectures, publish blog posts, books, and articles, host webinars and screenings of our film America’s First Forest: Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment, and I edit our magazine Forest History Today, all with the goal of getting forest history in front of people to help make them informed citizens. If the general public becomes familiar with the history of natural resources management, I believe they will become better stewards of the land. The other is the forestry community. I hope that what I share through my publications and webinars helps make them informed citizens of the forestry community, and that the lessons they learn from history can help them when making management decisions. The forestry community has been incredibly welcoming to this non-forester, and I’m grateful to be recognized. I was nominated in large part because of my contributions to helping plan for Appalachian SAF’s centennial convention in 2021. That my nomination was put forward by and supported by the chapter’s leaders affirms what I’ve long believed—that foresters care about their profession’s history because they are good citizens of both communities. 
Photo Left: Part of Dr. Lewis' outreach effort includes attending history conferences to present papers and SAF conventions to talk with people about forest history and preserving their records. 

Young Forester Leadership Award

Eli Jensen, CF

The Young Forester Leadership Award recognizes outstanding leadership by a young forestry professional in the development and promotion of an individual program or project, or for a sustained leadership role benefiting the practice of forestry and SAF.

Watch this video  to hear a few words from Eli Jensen. 

Eli Jensen, CF, is a young forestry professional known for his leadership in the development and promotion of innovative programs within the field of forestry and SAF. Eli's academic journey began with a bachelor of science in forestry from Northern Arizona University in 2012, followed by a master of forestry from the same institution in 2016.

Eli's true passion lay in forestry, prompting him to contribute to the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest and pursue further education. As the owner and principal forester of Ironwood Forestry, LLC, Eli has demonstrated a capacity for creative thinking and strategic planning. His ingenuity became evident in the creation of the Mark I paint sprayer, resulting in substantial cost savings for the USDA Forest Service. Leveraging technology, he introduced digital tools into timber sale preparation, further streamlining processes. His innovative mindset extended to project development, exemplified by the Pumphouse Cross-Boundary Restoration Project. This initiative showcased his ability to navigate partnerships and develop strategies that incorporate cutting-edge technologies. Eli's involvement in addressing workforce development challenges is reflected in his participation with Future Farmers of America, Envirothon, and the Coconino County Workforce Development board, where he organized recruitment events to connect aspiring professionals with potential employers.

Eli views forestry as not just a job, but an identity that extends beyond the workday. He believes being a forester is a way of life, and that professional association is critical in such a small and tightly knit profession. Eli became a member of SAF in 2011 and a Certified Forester in 2020. He served as a subject matter expert in 2021 for the certified forester job analysis, and he is currently serving on the Committee on Accreditation. He enjoys sharing his crafts with the profession 

by donating to the SAF National Convention’s silent auction. Eli's engagement isn't limited to SAF; he's an active member of the Association of Consulting Foresters as well. His leadership contributions have led to collaborative efforts between SAF and ACF, enhancing both organizations.

A few words from Jensen:

I wasn’t born to be a forester. Rather, I was reborn in forestry. I suffered from “imposter syndrome” until I looked past what a forester was “supposed” to do, and focused instead on the work that needed to be done. I started thinking in terms of problems and solutions instead of job descriptions and duties. I pursued the paths that I thought were worthwhile, not where others told me to go. I found purpose and caught a small fleeting glimpse of my full potential. I’ve been chasing that glimpse ever since.

Through its inherent nature, problem-solving requires rejecting the status quo. This isn’t always easy and is bound to ruffle feathers. Throughout that never-ending process, I have found support and camaraderie with other members of the Society of American Foresters. This is part of what carries me through my moments of doubt and reinvigorates me to continue my pursuit of that ever-elusive full 

Thank you to all of those that have supported me and thank you to SAF for this prestigious award.

Presidential Field Forester Awards

The Presidential Field Forester Award recognizes foresters that have dedicated their professional careers to the application of forestry on the ground using sound, scientific methods and adaptive management strategies. To hear more from the Presidential Field Foresters, click on the hyperlinked names below to watch a short video.

District 1 – Paul Buckland, CF
District 2 – Shaun Harkins, CF 
District 3 – Julianne Stewart
District 4 – Carolina Manriquez, CF
District 5 – Darrell Pierson
District 6 – Peter Farrell
District 7 – John Saf
District 8 – David Powell, CF
District 9 – Michael Keeley
District 10 – Gerald Schwarzauer
District 11 – James Moss, CF

Class of 2023 Fellows

The rank of Fellow is bestowed on a member by their peers for outstanding contributions and service to SAF and the profession. Fellows are listed in alphabetical order, followed by SAF state society affiliation. To hear more from each Fellow, click on the hyperlinked names below to watch a short video. 
Glenn Ahrens Oregon
Gregory Bailey
Edwin Baird
Tara Bal, CF
Dennis Becker
Inland Empire 
Kimberly Bohn
Philip Bryce, CF
New England 
William Crapser, CF
Anthony D'Amato, CF
New England
Trixy Diamond
John Ehrenreich, Jr.
Susan Francher
New England 
Peter Fulé
Joel Hambright, CF
Christina Harrigan, CF
Susan Jeheber-Matthews
Sun Joseph Chang
John Kessler
Larry Leefers
Cassandra Meek
Laura Moser
Robert Naeger
James Savage
New York 
Judy Schutza
Hughes Simpson, CF
Jacek Siry
Alan Tocchini
Thomas Trembath, CF
David Trimpey, CF
Jeffrey Ward
New England 
Ken Winterberger
William Worrell, CF

Class of 2023 SAF Student Diversity Scholars

Scholars attend the SAF National Convention and are paired with mentors to have the opportunity to learn from one another and engage with leaders across SAF and the profession. The 2023 scholars are listed along with their respective universities. 

Stephanie Cadaval - University of Florida

Jordan Carey - North Carolina State University  
Julia Chen - Yale University
Louis Cimmino - University of California - Berkeley
Apo Skye Cyr - Green River College
Lillian Dinkins - University of Florida
Taryn Dowden - Colorado State University
Alexis Guillermo - SUNY ESF
Bradia Henfield - Mississippi State University 
Allyson Henson - SUNY ESF
Ana Marbella Monroy Jones - Oregon State University
Durga Joshi - University of Connecticut 
Cassidy McCarty - North Carolina State University
Maggie Oliver - Purdue University
Joshua Del Rio - SUNY ESF
Kat Rowe - University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Heaven Sanchez - Colorado State University
Kayla Stuart - University of Tennessee - Knoxville
Tiara Walks - University of Montana 
Cristina Winters - California State Polytechnic University - Humboldt

Gregory Award Winner

Karuna Karki, Nepal

The Gregory Award provides economic assistance to outstanding students or professionals from outside of the United States and Canada to attend the SAF national convention. 

Karuna Karki is a government forest officer working in the Division Forest Office in the Myagdi District under the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment in the Gandaki Province of Nepal.

Since 2017, Karki has worked with community forest user groups, facilitating in the protection, management, and utilization of the part of the national forest under their care. Her role includes providing technical services; facilitating the supply of timber, fuel-wood, and NTFPs/MAPs; regulating services; judicial adjudicating about forest and wildlife crimes; and collecting revenue and tax from forestry activities. 

Currently, Karki is in charge of two subdivision forest offices, among six subdivisions, within Division Forest Office in the Myagdi District. She is also the only female forest officer within the district. To date, she has worked with more than 200 community forest user groups in different districts of Nepal.
Apart from this, Karki is also interested in wildlife research and conservation and has received two Rufford Small Grants for a snow leopard conservation project, working with local communities in the Himalayas of Nepal. With this project, she has conducted awareness campaigns about snow leopard conservation with 42 villages and more than 200 students.

 Karki completed her technical certificate level (TCL) in forestry in 2012 and earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry in 2016 from Tribhuwan University, Institute of Forestry in Pokhara, Nepal. She was also awarded "Bidhya Bhusan Padak" by the President of Nepal for being the most outstanding student in forestry in September 2012. Recently, Karki has graduated with a double-degree, Erasmus+: Erasmus Mundus Joint Master and Master of Science in European Forestry in the field of forest sciences (2020-2022 from University of Eastern Finland and University of Freiburg in Germany under scholarship from European Union). 

 We are honored to have her join us in Sacramento in October at the 2023 SAF National Convention.

Left Photo: The preparation of a seed orchard within the community forest. The happy faces of local community after completion of plantation, cleaning, weeding, numbering the trees available in seed orchard of Lekhali champ (Michelia Kisopa), Myagdi District of Nepal, 2019.