Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned a B.S. from LSU, M.S. from Virginia Tech, and Ph.D. from Auburn. I’m a professor in the Center for Forest Business in the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, where I teach forestry and forest operations courses.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
My career at UGA began in January 1986. What brought me here was a job offer! I knew that UGA had a top forestry program and I felt very blessed to start my career here. I’ve never left.
What are your favorite courses and why?
Any course that gets me outside with students ranks high with me. Our Forestry Field Camp (FORS 4650/6650) taught each Maymester is probably the one I enjoy the most because we travel across the Southeast visiting active forestry operations such as mills and harvesting sites. It allows me to show students first-hand some of the challenges they will face as forest managers, while they meet and hear from practicing professional foresters. These settings allow learners of all types to learn using all of their senses.
I also enjoy teaching Natural Resource Conservation (FANR/MARS 1100) which is a general introduction to the topic taught to large classes of students from all across campus. Many of these students have some misconceptions about environmental issues or know little about the sources of the food and energy they consume. Helping them become more informed citizens about environmental issues is a lot of fun.
What interests you about your field?
The challenge of trying to sustainably manage our environmental resources is what led me into forestry. We rely on forests for so many things – water, wildlife habitat, income, paper, wood. We want to leave forests in good shape so that future generations can continue to rely on them for those things as well. And here in Georgia, nearly all of our forests are privately owned; thus landowners have to find a way to generate income to pay property taxes, while managing their forests sustainably. Finding the balance between production and protection is what I find intellectually stimulating.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
The best part of this job is getting to watch your students become successful. Seeing their joy at having their first manuscript published, completing their research, or delivering a presentation well never gets old. When I see them in professional leadership positions later in their careers that is priceless.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching?
My research has always focused on ways to improve how we harvest timber – less environmental impact, increased profits, higher quality products, etc. This usually involves working closely with forest industry and independent logging businesses – it is applied research. As a result, it provides plenty of current examples and applications for use in the classroom and we often visit our research cooperators during class lab sessions. This provides a very active learning environment.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope they leave my classroom with wider horizons on how they look at environmental issues and the options they consider for trying to address them. And I hope they appreciate that we can often find solutions that are not either/or options but permit resource use while protecting the environment.
Describe your ideal student.
One who asks questions – I love to see intellectual curiosity in a student. If they have that, then other good traits such as a work ethic, ability to self-start and follow through, and setting high goals for themselves usually come along as well. I think my task is to get them to ask questions.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
…watching the Diamond Dawgs play baseball at Foley Field on warm spring afternoons with my family.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
Outside of work, most of my activities keep me outside. I enjoy raising vegetables and making pickles. I like to fish, go RV camping at the beach, raft rivers and backpack in the north Georgia mountains. I also enjoy managing the forestland that my wife Jeanna and I bought as an investment years ago.
Community/civic involvement includes….
I’ve been active with the Georgia Forestry Association for many years. Locally, I am very involved with Boy Scout Troop 1 at Athens First United Methodist Church, where my family worships. I also help coordinate a Scouting event at UGA that brings 200+ Scouts to campus each fall and spring to work on merit badges with the assistance of people from across the UGA campus.
Tenth Legion, The Boat, and Better on a Rising Tide – all by Tom Kelly – are my favorite books.
Proudest moment at UGA?
The Warnell School is loaded with great teachers, so receiving the Herrick Superior Teaching Award in 2007 was very satisfying, as was becoming a UGA Senior Teaching Fellow in 2008.