Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

Year, Name, County, Acres

2018, Bob & Jane Slagter, Warren, 52

The 2018 Tree Farmers of the Year are Bob and Jane Slagter of Bradfordwoods, PA.  The Slagters became certified in the Tree Farm program in 2006.  The Slagter Tree Farm is in Southwest Township, Warren County along Caldwell Creek near the village of Dotyville where they built a beautiful 'camp' --- appropriately called "The Creek House" made from wood taken off the property.  The Slagter's philosophy, "The land provides.  Whatever you put into the land … time, money, effort, resources --- goes back into the soil, and provides what you need and more."

In addition to being a Tree Farmer, Bob is also a Pennsylvania Forest Steward Volunteer and currently serves as Chairman of the Forest Stewards Steering Committee.  He also writes a bi-monthly column for their Newsletter.  He participates as well on the board of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests, a land trust dedicated to protecting forested land and natural ecosystems while supporting rural communities through working forests.  Lastly, Bob was recently honored as the Warren County Forest Landowner of the Year.

In 1994, Bob signed up for the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship program and generated their first forest management plan for their then, 37 acres.  One of their initial objectives was to implement some stream improvement projects.  In 1995, they received funding for stream improvement work. That began the more than 20-year effort to improve the health, sustainability and productivity of their forested acreage, which has now grown to its current size of 52 acres.  In the spring of 2018, a riparian buffer project was implemented by the Slagters that included the planting of over 400 trees by students from nearby Titusville High School. 

Some other projects that they have completed on their property include:  firewood cutting, tree planting, herbicide treatments, removal of undesirable, competing understory vegetation, and improvements to an old railroad bed that is a public access point for fishing in Caldwell Creek.

The Slagter's are honored with this designation and invite everyone to a celebration of their Warren County Tree Farm in the spring of 2019!

2017, Arlyn and Marial Perkey, Greene, 77.5

Arlyn and Marial Perkey are recipients of the 2017 Tree Farmer of the Year award for their stewardship of a 77.5 acre property located along Claylick Run in Greene County.  The Perkey Tree Farm in Rutan, Pennsylvania includes 62 wooded acres that are enrolled in the tree farm program. The remaining 15.5 acres are planted with warm season grasses and forbs with ribbons of savannah and shrubs along a meandering stream.

For Arlyn, owning this property is a childhood dream come true. Arlyn grew up in central Iowa where his parents worked very hard on two farms; land they rented but were never able to own. Although this lack of ownership never seemed to bother his parents, Arlyn felt that the rights of ownership created a stronger, more complete connection to the land. Time spent in the woods along the Des Moines River nurtured his desire to own forest land.

In high school, Arlyn's intense interest in the natural world blossomed into a land conservation ethic and a desire to study forestry at Iowa State University.  After graduation in 1968 he began working with the U.S. Forest Service, but his fledgling career was interrupted by a call from Uncle Sam to serve in the jungles and former Michelin rubber plantations in Vietnam. Wounded in combat, Arlyn was discharged from the army with a modest pension and soon resumed work with the Forest Service in the Eastern Hardwood Forest.

Arlyn committed half of that pension to achieve the goal of acquiring his own land.  In 1990, after approximately 20 years of saving and investing, the Iowa farm-boy's dream became reality. Situated on the site of a 1950s dairy farm, Perkey Tree Farm reflects Arlyn's many years in the woods.  Claylick Run is similar in size to Prairie Creek that passed through one of the farms his parents rented. Like the silver maple, elm and walnut that grew along the Des Moines River, walnut flourishes on the bottomland along Claylick. The oak and hickory on the former Claylick dairy farm pastureland reminded him of the oak-hickory savannahs that were converted to intensely grazed livestock pastures of Iowa. Sugar maple on the north-facing slopes and white pine on the west facing slope remind him of his time in New England.  A small red pine planting is like a trip back his to his work in northern Minnesota.

For over 27 years Arlyn and Marial have worked tirelessly to achieve their timber, wildlife and aesthetic goals. From the outset, increasing the volume of high value hardwoods has been a priority.  Federal cost-share incentives administered by the state and implemented by Arlyn were used to accomplish pre-commercial investments.  Meticulous monitoring of tree growth provides a record of progress towards this goal as well as guidance on treatments needed for a well-managed and maintained tree farm.

Hands-on management increased after Arlyn's retirement in 2002. In addition to his never-ending battle with invasive species, Arlyn is at work with his chainsaw and farm tractor whenever timber is cut. With help from a rented, portable sawmill and operator, logs were sawed and the boards kiln-dried, planed, and crafted into cabinetry and furniture for Arlyn and Marial's house. They relish seeing their trees in the woods, but also enjoy the beauty of finished wood in their home.

Since the formation of Southwestern Pennsylvania Woodland Owners Association (SWPWOA) in 2000, Arlyn and Marial have enjoyed the company of those who share their passion for the natural world. Whether they are hosting tours, attending meetings, or relaxing at the annual picnic, Arlyn and Marial value the warm and enduring friendships with fellow tree farmers as they gain and give advice, celebrate victories, commiserate over disappointments, and work to maintain the health and beauty of Pennsylvania's forests.

Year:  2016 - Missing

2015, Harold and Gay Thistle, Greene, 98

The 2015 Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year are Harold and Gay Thistle from Waynesburg, Greene County, in Southwestern Pennsylvania.   The Thistles purchased their 98 acre Tree Farm in June of 1999.  There were about 30 wooded acres and the rest was pastureland used for hay.  The farm was used to raise sheep and then cattle.  It has a generally southern aspect with one perennial stream in the northern woods and an intermittent stream in the wooded area near their residence at the southern end of the property.  The original forested land is a typical Appalachian oak-hickory forest type. 

Since purchasing the property the Thistles planted over 3400 seedlings from 2000-2014.  The species list includes black walnut, white ash, northern red oak, American chestnut, Chinese chestnut, white spruce, Douglas fir, and butternut.  All seedlings were planted with deer protection (deer populations have ranged from manageable to very high).   Some of the deer protection was successful, some not. Mulch mats were used with the 2000 planting of 800 Black walnuts and 400 White Ash. 

The Thistles are founding members of the SW PA Woodland Owners Association (SWPWO) which was formed in 2000.  Harold served two terms as President and Gay also served two terms as President, two terms as Secretary and ten years as editor of the newsletter.  At this time, Harold and Gay serve on the Board as a Past President.  They became a Stewardship Farm in 2001 and joined American Tree Farm System in 2012.  In 2011 they were recognized by the Greene County Conservation District and awarded the Outstanding Forest Conservationists award.  The Thistles also belong to the American Chestnut Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, the National Woodland Owners Association, and the American Forest Foundation.

The management work on the property is accomplished mostly on weekends and evenings since both still work.  The hardwood plantations that are accessible are mowed on an annual basis.  They prune the trees to promote clear butt logs and cull out diseased trees.  Time is spent managing the deer protection, straightening stakes and tubes, and replacing damaged and outgrown protectors.  Most of their woodland time is taken up controlling invasive plants, which they primarily control mechanically by mowing.  The mile-a-minute vine invasion is being treated biologically with weevils as part of a research project with West Virginia University and the U.S. Forest Service.  They also have three tree planting plots, black walnut, white oak, and red oak, which are measured for growth.  They are also in the first year of an NRCS program to remove invasive plants and plant more trees.

In addition to the management work, the Thistles have done a tremendous amount of outreach in a short period of time having organized and hosted numerous educational tours of their property on many occasions and for many different groups. Some of these include the SWPWO - Nov 2005, July 2007, and Sept 2014, the National Walnut Council - July 2013, Carmichaels Area School District - May 2014, the U.S. Forest Service Pesticide use Coordinators - 2014, Chainsaw Safety Game of Logging Course - Oct 2015, and the Bidwell Training Center, Pittsburgh, PA Horticultural Department.  Both serve on the steering committee of the horticultural program at Bidwell Training Center.  They also hosted three training sessions for their post-secondary students.  The training sessions include, tree identification, invasive identification and eradication, chain sawing, pruning, and tree planting.  They are also in the process of setting up a permanent plot for the school to manage.

2014, Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy, Allegheny,110

The 2014 Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farm of the Year is Beckets Run Woodlands from Forward Township, Allegheny County in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The 110-acre family owned Stewardship Forest is the center of an ecosystem-based sustainable forestry enterprise that focuses on restoring the property's severely degraded forest, protecting biodiversity and creating a model for others to follow. Located only 20 miles south of downtown Pittsburgh within the Beckets Run Biodiversity Area, the property exemplifies the challenges facing forest management in the urban-wildland interface.

Acquired by the Sredy family in the early 1920's for agricultural purposes, the land parcel suffered multiple sequential detrimental impacts: Poor agricultural practices, a fractioned ownership, abandonment, air pollution during the Donora Steel Mills disaster of 1948, vandalism and the construction of natural gas pipelines. As a result, a destructive process of loss of vegetation, soil destabilization, erosion and infestation by invasive plant species, which was perpetuated by trespassing ATVs, dirt bikes and illegal dumping, transformed the parcel into a blighted property.

In 2007, after a lengthy legal process, the family ownership was finally re-consolidated. Janet Sredy, her husband Raul Chiesa and her brother and sister-in-law Mark and Patty became the sole owners and formed Beckets Run Woodlands, a Pennsylvania LLC with Raul and Janet as managers. To improve the property an ambitious adaptive business management master plan in conformance with the American Tree Farm System forest management standards is being aggressively implemented.

The conventional approach to forest improvement focuses on areas with established timber production capacity, implementing practices to enhance timber quality and quantity, all financed through timber commercialization, an approach that derives value from timber production.

Beckets Run Woodlands' approach focuses instead on the most ubiquitous severely impaired forest areas with no immediate timber production potential, implementing practices to restore the ecosystem and protect biodiversity so the forest can eventually again sustain timber production, support wildlife and provide other products and services. Using multiple technical and financial resources available to Pennsylvania landowners, including government and university sponsored programs and the commercialization of recreational hunting and mineral development, forming partnerships with neighbor landowners and establishing a formal commitment to standards of conservation, Beckets Run Woodlands is creating a model that derives value not just from timber production potential, but from forest conservation itself.

Raul and Janet are Pennsylvania Forest Steward Volunteers and are active in the Westmoreland Woodlands Improvement Association and the Southwestern PA Woodland Owners group.

2013, Troy Firth, Crawford, 90

2012, Beartown Family LP, Centre, 2087

The Pennsylvania outstanding Tree Farmer of 2012 is Beartown Family LP.  The 2087-acre property is located in Snow Shoe and Union Townships, Centre County.  Since purchased by their grandfather, Carey Shoemaker, in 1943 the property has been providing timber revenues and recreation opportunities for their family.  In the mid - 1970's their father, Lewis Shoemaker, installed a 00 Frick sawmill.  The entire family worked in the woods and on the mill.  In 2000 Lewis Shoemaker implemented a forest stewardship plan to improve the sustainability of their timber harvests.  Lewis Shoemaker passed away in 2006.  The property is currently managed by Susan Benedict, Carey Shoemaker and Michael Shoemaker.  In 2007, after the passing of their father, the children had a forest inventory completed to ensure timber harvests continued to be within sustainable parameters.  In 2008 the entire property was entered into the American Tree Farm System.

Forest treatments have included herbicide treatments, timber stand improvement work, installation of food plots, planting of cover on log landings and forest roads to minimize erosion, annual plantings of 500+ seedlings of mixed varieties, a 16 acre crop tree release and enhancements for riparian buffer zone, standing snags, downed woody debris, and pollinator habitat.  In the 1999/2000 time frame a 62 acre deer exclosure was installed.  This was the 3rd fenced area on the property.  These areas are still fenced to protect seed sources in the aftermath of the severe gypsy moth infestation of 2005 to 2008 with a secondary infestation of armalaria root rot which followed.  Quality deer management has been practiced since 2007.  As a result, there is impressive advanced forest regeneration.

The family has two habitable structures, one on the grid and one off and they maintain approximately 6 miles of main roads and 8 miles of boundaries.  Over the last 3 years they have installed a shooting range which includes rifle, shotgun and handgun components.  This has provided hours of fun for the entire family as well as numerous scout groups. They are currently investigating improvements to a high value trout stream.   Perhaps most important the current generation has begun work on an intergenerational transfer plan and all involved are working together to develop and maintain a plan that ensures the property stays whole and in the family. 

Year 2011 - Missing

2010, John & Maureen Burnham, Washington, 450

The Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year is John C. Burnham. The Burnham Tree Farm is managed as a family property, committed to demonstrating best management practices, providing a venue for outreach and education and becoming economically sustainable. John began managing the family property as a Tree Farm/Stewardship Forest in 1998. Since that time, John has completed numerous large scale tree plantings, completed several crop tree releases, completed many acres of timber stand improvement (tsi), and has waged war on many of the invasive plants threatening his property. John also has a Timber Harvester band mill on the property, in which he does specialty sawing and drying for his own use. John was the founding president of SWPWO (Southwest PA Woodland Owners) and has opened up his property for many tours and demonstrations to various forestry professionals, private forest landowners and many other groups of interested people. His enthusiasm, work ethic, and countless hours of volunteer work make John a very worthy recipient of this award.

2009    Harry and Helen Spellman, Venango 331

On Saturday, October 3, 2009, at the Pennsylvania Forestry Association (PFA) Annual Dinner Meeting in Essington, PA the Tree Farm Committee honored Harry and Helen Spellman as the state's Outstanding Tree Farmers of 2009. In 1994 the Spellman's, of Wexford, PA, acquired a 331-acre woodlot in Venango County. Working with foresters identified through the PA Bureau of Forestry they embarked on removing grapevine and other invasive plants.

In 1997, they approached Consulting Forester, John Daugherty to manage a potential timber sale. At that time, John advised them on problems with their previously unmanaged forest, things that would be aggravated unless they did work in advance of the sale. John prepared a management plan incorporating their objectives to enhance timber value and wildlife habitat. With this information and direction, Harry and his son, Harry, Jr., spent several years preparing for their first timber sale. The sale occurred in 2006, primarily for the purpose of enhancing the property. A timber stand improvement sale also took place in 2008.

It was such a pleasure to meet this active senior couple when we visited their forest this summer. The amount of work dedicated to the principles of the Tree Farm Program convinced the Committee that the Spellman's selection as Outstanding Tree Farmers is well-deserved.

2008, George & Jane Schmader, Clarion, 170

George and Jane Schmader of Clarion County were recognized as the 2008 State Tree Farmer of the Year (STFOY) at the Pennsylvania Forestry Association's (PFA) annual meeting and banquet in St. Mary's, Pennsylvania on September 13th. They have operated Hill wood Tree Farm since 1996 and were recognized as the Clarion County Woodland Conservationists in 2004.

George is an active member of the Clarion County Forest Stewardship Committee and the Vice-Chair of the Clarion County Conservation District. In addition, he is the President of the Woodland Owners of Clarion-Allegheny Valley, and he and Jane are active in the PA Forest Stewards volunteer program.

 2007, Craig, Janet & Tara Olver, Wayne, 568

The State Tree Farm Committee has selected Craig, Janet & Tara Olver, owners of Tall Timber Tree Farm, as Pennsylvania's Outstanding Tree Farmers of 2007. The Olver's property is located in Wayne County along the Delaware River. The Olver family continues Pennsylvania's string of very qualified candidates to compete for the Regional and National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year.
The Olvers were honored at the Pennsylvania Forestry Association (PFA) annual meeting in September. Soon we will start planning a field day (for 2008) at Tall Timber. This property is a must see for anyone who appreciates a well managed forest. PFA Members, Woodland Owners Associations, Tree Farmers, DCNR Personnel, and others will enjoy this visit.

2006, Georg & Brenda Kirik, Erie, 242

On September 22, 2006 the Pennsylvania Tree Farm Committee awarded George and Brenda Kirik recognition as the 2006 Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. Their Tree Farm consists of 242 wooded acres located in southeastern Erie County. Erie County Service Forester Tom Erdman nominated the Kiriks for the award. Tom stated, "George has done more good forestry work than any other landowner I know, both on his own land and on other forested properties where he has convinced the landowners to practice good forestry."

With Tom's assistance, starting in 1991, the Kiriks developed management priorities for the property. It was discovered that much of the property was in need of timber stand improvement (TSI) work. The first priority was grapevine control. During 1991 and 1992, essentially all the grapevines on the property were cut, except for a number of small arbors left for wildlife food and cover. By the end of 2000, over 120 acres of non-commercial pole timber was thinned and many trees were also pruned for the first log (16ft). All the TSI work was marked and cut by George who spent literally thousands of hours improving his woodlot by removing grapevines and thinning and pruning trees.

George says, "God gave us this property, it's our responsibility to make the highest value out of it that we can. We're only caretakers of the land. Investing in a tree farm is like investing in the stock market. Are you going to sell the trees that are making you money? No, you sell the trees that aren't making you money."

The Kiriks are also teaching the younger generation about tree farming and proper land management. Twice a year, a forestry career class at Corry High School spends the day at the farm. In 2003, George completed the 40 hours of training provided by Penn State and the Bureau of Forestry to become a PA Forest Stewards volunteer. Since that time, George has begun reaching out to surrounding landowners, assisting them with their TSI work and advising them on the proper way to sell and manage timber. When selling mature timber from his own Tree Farm, George always contracts with consulting forester Mark Webb for appraisal and marketing services.

2005, Sagamore Big game Club, Elk County, 1157

On October 13th at the annual Pennsylvania Forestry Association's Banquet, the Tree Farm Committee formally recognized the Sagamore Big Game Club as the 2005 Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. Agents Don Orgis, Cliff Anderson, and John Monroe represented the club. Service Forester Jim McGarvey nominated the club for the award. The Tree Farm consists of 1157 acres located in the southeastern Elk County. The club was first organized in 1920 when the property was purchased as recently clear-cut forestland.

There are 25 owners of the property. Multiple generations of past club members are still enjoying the club property. Many of the owners are grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original 1920 owners.

Through the guidance of professional forester Paul Noll, Noll's Forestry Services, the membership has accomplished more than 400 acres of timber stand improvement and grape vine removal, cutting predominantly cull and pulpwood trees of poor quality and undesirable species. Paul completed a Forest Stewardship Management Plan for the property in 2002.

A 70-acre shelterwood harvest (the club representatives do not believe in diameter limit cutting) was completed for regeneration purposes in 2003. All trees except those designated as seed trees were cut. The entire 70 acres was treated with an herbicide to control fern and interfering brush prior to the harvest and a deer exclusion fence was installed around a 50-acre section of the harvest. To promote regeneration of desirable species, a supplemental planting of a variety of species is done each spring in the deer enclosure.
Miles of roads have also been stabilized and improved. Numerous culverts (more than 50) and broad based dips have been installed. Each time a timber sale occurs skid trails are laid out properly, graded, water barred and seeded at the end of the harvesting. Log landings are also seeded for wildlife.

Seeing the results of their work, the club members have been promoting Tree Farming to family and friends. The club hosted the North central Forest Landowners Association for a woods walk demonstration in the fall of 2002. The property is also open to the public for hunting in order to control the deer population.

2004, Dave & Carol Clemens, Susquehanna, 494

The Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award for 2004 was bestowed upon Dave and Carol Clemens of Hallstead, PA. They own approximately 500 acres of forestland managed as a Tree Farm for improved timber, water, recreation, and wildlife benefits. Although their tract of land is larger than most PA Tree Farmers, this isn't the reason they won the award. It was their dedication to and application of the Tree Farm mission that made them outstanding. This mission is: to promote the growing of renewable forest resources on private lands while protecting environmental benefits and increasing public understanding of all benefits of productive forestry.

2003, John & Kim Daugherty, Clarion, 52

John and Kim Daugherty of Knox (Clarion County) purchased Irish Acres, a 52-acre Tree Farm, five years ago. As often happens, the previous owners had high-graded the woodlands, removing the economically valuable trees before selling it. John is also the owner and manager of Timber Resources Unlimited, a forestry consulting firm and dealer in forest products. As a forester, he uses his knowledge on his own land by removing cull trees and retaining trees that may still have value as timber. To supplement their income and put some old fields to work, the Daughertys are also starting a Christmas tree business.

The Daughertys proactively manage their property to control deer browsing and invasive plants. Several strategically placed deer stands help keep the deer population under control, and the result has been an abundance of tree regeneration in the woods. In addition, they have declared war on multiflora rose by spraying the invasive plants with the herbicide glyphosate during the blooming season.

John also actively volunteers for forestry programs. He is currently chair of the Clarion County Forest Stewardship Committee and the past chair of the Pennsylvania Tree Farm Committee. He and Kim regularly use their Tree Farm to introduce school children to forests and sustainable forestry.

As Tree Farmers of the Year, John and Kim received a Stihl chainsaw, complete with protective gear, a wall plaque, and a four-by-eight foot sign declaring Irish Acres the 2003 Pennsylvania Tree Farm of the Year.

2002, Spencer Stamy, Cumberland, 26

"Spencer Stamy has done an exemplary job of Planting and tending extensive hardwood and conifer plantings on his farm." According to Service Forester Bruce Kile, "He eagerly follows recommendations from resource professionals and all commercial timber harvests on his property are conducted by a professional forester using silvicultural prescriptions."

Bureau of Forestry Stewardship Coordinator Jim Stiehler was especially impressed by Mr. Stamy's hardwood plantation. "It is about eight acres, and the trees are about fifteen years old now," says Stiehler. "They're mostly oaks and ash, and are about four inches in diameter and fifteen feet tall. The care he puts into maintaining the trees is remarkable; he planted the trees in tubes to protect them from deer browsing and carefully mows between them to control interfering plants. When the trees began emerging from the tubes, bucks started damaging the trees by rubbing them. So, Spencer installed a unique three-wire electric fence to keep the bucks out."

Mr. Stamy also shares his knowledge about sound forest management with others by making his Tree Farm available for forest landowner workshops.

2001, Jim & Libby Walizer, Centre, 248

The Walizer Tree Farms consists of the wooded portions of three farms in Nittany Valley (near Bellefonte in Centre County). The farms have been in the Walizer family for three generations, and sons Dennis and Mike are active in all aspects of the business and plan to continue ownership into the future.

As stewards of the land, the Walizers seek professional advice and discuss their options as a family before proceeding with timber management activities. In 1985, the opted for a seed tree harvest on Dad's lot with the assistance of consulting forester Jim Cowen. Sixteen years later, the next forest is well on its way with a dense growth of 20 to 30 feet high saplings.

In 1992, the family considered a timber harvest on Dennis' lot. Service Forester Jim Stiehler (now the Bureau of Forestry's Stewardship Coordinator) conducted a stand analysis and indicated that grapevines and ferns were likely to interfere with regeneration unless steps were taken to control them. The high deer population in the area was also a threat to the future forest. The Walizers cut and treated the grapevine on 40 acres and waited 5 years to be sure the roots were dead. Only then did they contact Jim Cowen to arrange for a shelterwood harvest. They had the fern sprayed before the harvest and installed a nine-strand electric fence to hold back the deer and allow the numerous stump sprouts and seedlings to grow.

The Walizers are committed to educating fellow landowners and students about sound farm and forest management techniques. Each year they host several educational programs for students, neighbors, and forest landowners. Jim and Libby are charter members and past board members of the Woodland Owners of Center County, and Jim is a Forest Stewardship VIP.

Jim has become active on the Centre County Extension Board and is becoming known as a good source of forestry information among fellow farmers in his community. He also worked with his township supervisors to implement a system for providing landowners with information about forest regeneration before they harvest.

2000, Malcolm & Henrietta Olson, Crawford, 256

At its 114th Annual Meeting in September 2000, the Pennsylvania Forestry Association presented the 2000 Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award to Malcolm and Henrietta Olson of Erie.

The Olsons own a 75-acre tract near Canadohta Lake in northeast Crawford County that has been a certified Tree Farm for 24 years. Malcolm and Henrietta have hosted many tours and educational programs at their Tree Farm. "Propagating for Wildlife" was the subject of a recent educational seminar that taught forest landowners how to store and germinate seeds, and to grow plants that provide wildlife food and shelter.

The Olsons are responsible land managers who protect and use their land's renewable resources. They have taken steps to promote a diversity of plants and animal species and have established wildlife food plots and nesting boxes for a variety of species. With the assistance of a forester, they plan to harvest timber within the next 5 to 10 years.
To become a certified member of the American Tree Farm System, landowners must have at least ten contiguous acres of forestland and actively follow a written forest management plan. The plan addresses how the landowner will provide for wildlife habitat, recreation, and water and soil conservation, while producing renewable forest products. After a professional forester certifies their land, landowners earn the right to display the green and white diamond-shaped Tree Farm sign. Tree Farms are reinspected periodically to ensure that landowners continue to meet the Tree Farm System's certification standards. Pennsylvania has 1400 certified Tree Farms comprising nearly 475,000 acres.

Founded in 1941, the American Tree Farm System is the oldest and largest certifier of sustainable forests in the United States. The Tree Farm System is a program of the American Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops, funds, and administers programs that encourage the long-term stewardship of our natural resources.

The Olsons were selected for the statewide honors from four regional winners. The other regional winners were David and Mary Newman of Lewisberry in York County, James and Libby Walizer of Centre County, and the Villa Maria Farms in Lawrence County. Congratulations to the Olsons and each of the regional winners.

1999, Al & Peggy McCollough, Potter, 256

Al and Peggy McCollough are the Pennsylvania Tree Farmers of the Year for 1999. The McColloughs, who manage a 256-acre Tree Farm in Potter County, are now entered in the Northeast Regional competition, along with winners from eleven other states. Winners From the four regional competitions will then vie for The National Tree Farmer of the Year. The McColloughs have been managing Tree Farm #2309 for over 20 years. They have protected and enhanced their timber resource by controlling insects and disease, fencing for natural regeneration, planting a variety of species and doing timber stand improvement. They provide education programs for students and adults. We wish the McColloughs the best of luck at this highly competitive level.

1998, 1998  Joe Ibberson, Dauphin,
1997, 1997  George and Joan Freeman, Clarion, National Winner
1996, 1996  Merle Zetler, McKean,
1995, 1995  Malcom Olsen, Erie,
1994, 1994  Demetra "May" Grossetto, Wayne,
1993, 1993  Wallace Riley, Huntingdon,
1992, 1992  Louie and Barbara Wiginton, Washington,
1991, 1991  Authur and Mary Wolfe, Adams,
1990, 1990  George and Joan Freeman, Clarion,
1989, 1989  Al and Eleanor Maass, Susquehanna, Regional Winner
1988, 1988  Mryl and Loraine Alexandria, Union,
1987, 1987  Demetra "May" Grossetto, Wayne, Regional Winner
1986, 1986  William and Frances Dreher, Venango,
1985, 1985  Milton and Helen Reigart, York,
1984, 1894  Mrs. Howard D. Burns, Greene,
1983, 1983  Allen and John Laskowski, Dauphin,
1982, 1982  Helen Wolfe, Somerset,
1981, 1981  None Selected,  ,
1980, 1980  Robert C. Cyan, Snyder, Regional Winner
1979, 1979  Broadsheads Forest ad Stream Association, Monroe, PA outstanding hunt club
1979, 1979  George Haley, Clarion,
1978, 1978  Narrows Gunning and Game Protective Association, Fulton, PA outstanding hunt club
1978, 1978  Reed Reiter, Jefferson,
1977, 1977  Cherry Ridge Corp., Clearfield, PA outstanding hunt club
1977, 1977  N. Dean Starner, Bradford,
1976, 1976  Kettle Creek Fish and Game Club,  , PA outstanding hunt club
1976, `1976  Webster Family, Northumberland,
1975, 1975  George Snyder, Wayne,
1974, 1974  W. G. (Turk) Jones, Clearfield,
1973, 1973  Sterling Wagner, Monroe,
1972, 1972  Andrew Winebrenner, York,
1971, 1971  Dr. Phiip Hoover and Dr. R. Marvel Keagy, Blair,

Pennsylvania NE Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

Year, Name, County, Acres

Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy - Missing

2008 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

Craig, Janet & Tara Olver, Wayne, 568

The Olvers, owners of Tall Timber Tree Farm, will stand against winners from the three other regions in competition for 2008 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. The winner will be announced at the National Tree Farmer Convention in Portland, Oregon, October 16-18, 2008. We believe the Olvers are strong candidates and urge you to support them by attending this convention.

2006 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

2006, Jim & Libby Walizer, Centre, 248

Please join us in congratulating the Walizers as the Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. Jim and Libby own a 248-acre Tree Farm in Centre County, PA. They like to think of their tree farming activities as a total package, managing for water, wildlife, recreation and wood. Jim has planted thousands of trees on the property including riparian forest buffers and two chestnut orchards. The Walizers also stress education and are very active with their outreach efforts in the hope that it will encourage others to practice better forest management.

The Walizers will attend the National Tree Farm Convention in Mobile, Alabama, October 19-22, where they are in the running for the national award. They are competing against three other Tree Farmers from across the U.S. We congratulate them on their achievements and send them our best wishes for future success

2005 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

2005, Dave & Carol Clemens, Susquehanna, 494

The Northeast Regional winners in the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award for 2005 was bestowed upon Dave and Carol Clemens of Hallstead, PA. They own approximately 500 acres of forestland managed as a Tree Farm for improved timber, water, recreation, and wildlife benefits. Although their tract of land is larger than most PA Tree Farmers, this isn't the reason they won the award. It was their dedication to and application of the Tree Farm mission that made them outstanding. This mission is: to promote the growing of renewable forest resources

2004 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

2004, Malcolm & Henrietta Olson, Crawford, 348

This year was an exciting year for the Tree Farm Program in Pennsylvania. Tree Farmers Malcolm and Henrietta Olson of Erie were the Northeast Regional winners in the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award. They competed with three other regional Tree Farm winners for the 2004 title of National Tree Farmer. The winners, Tree Farmers from Oregon, were announced at the National Tree Farm Convention held in Fort Collins, CO on September 23-26.

1998 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

1998, George & Joan Freeman, Clarion, 662

In the summer issue of the Forest Stewardship Quarterly we announced that Tree Farmer, Forest Steward, and VIPCOVERTS Stewardship Volunteer George Freeman and his wife, Joan, of Knox, Pa, were named one of three finalists in the annual Northeast Regional Tree Farmer of the Year contest. On August 6, Tree Farm Director Bob Simpson made an on-site visit to the expansive Freeman Farm in Clarion County, and soon thereafter, George and Joan learned that they had earned the regional title.

As regional winners, the Freemans will be flown to Savannah, Georgia, for the National Tree Farm convention from November 12 to 15, when the national Tree Farmer of the Year will be named. The Freemans are in the running with other regional winners from Oregon, Ohio, and Georgia.

Freeman's land has been in the Tree Farm program since 1974, and he was one of Pennsylvania's first Forest Stewards as well as one of the first persons to complete what is now known as the VIPCOVERT Stewardship Volunteer Training.

"I started with 93 acres in 1957, in a partnership," Freeman recalls, "but my partner was interested in strip mining, and I was more interested in tree farming and conservation, so that ended." Freeman bought another 74 acres in 1960 and now owns 662 contiguous acres in Clarion County. By 1972, he had his first written management plan completed.

"When I first started out," Freeman says, "my plan was based on timber stand improvement for a five-year period, but as I acquired more land, my objectives changed." Freeman now reviews his management plan and has his consulting forester cruise the property annually. He is interested in growing high-quality red and white oak and cherry, as well as continuously improving the quality of his land for the future. One day the land will pass to his three sons, but for now, the Freeman Tree Farm and Stewardship Forest serves as an outdoor laboratory for many visitors.

"I like to use the farm for educational purposes--one on one or with groups," Freeman says. I hope I can help other people understand the problems I encountered in the years I've owned the farm." He helps people, understand that and more. Freeman is well-known for providing educational opportunities and activities for young people in the Clarion area, and welcomes other folks, singly or in large groups, for educational sessions at Freeman Farm. Visitors can examine the results of carefully planned and executed timber harvests (he has had six), learn all about the various ways to harvest timber at Penn State's silvicultural demonstration plots, and get a look at the relatively new technique of crop tree management.

Last October, the Freemans hosted well over 400 persons who came to the farm for the Tree Farm Program's 50th anniversary celebration. This year, 80 forest landowners from Mercer County came to Freeman Farm to see what can be done with good planning and management.

Freeman believes that if landowners are members of either the industry-sponsored Tree Farm Program or the government- sponsored Forest Stewardship Program, they might as well join the other, too. "Tree Farm and Stewardship dovetail one into the other," he says. "It's all like a close-knit family; one compliments the other."

Those who know George and Joan Freeman compliment them. They have long been leaders in sound, productive forest management and have shared their time, energy, knowledge, and land with so many people. We wish you well in Georgia!

Pennsylvania National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

Raul Chiesa and Janet Sredy - Missing

Pennsylvania National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year

1998, George & Joan Freeman, Clarion, 662

The Freeman's Take It All
Washington DC, November 30, 1998- Clarion County, Pennsylvania, is a sleepy little trect of countryside-halved by the Allegheny River, rippled with slowly rolling hills and dotted with hamlets bearing names like Turkey City, Turnip Hole, and Sligo. For years, this picturesque county has prided itself as the home of America Golf Hall of Fame and the site of many championship golf courses. But now, Clarion County can celebrate another championship property- George and Joan Freeman's Tree Farm.

The American Tree Farm System has named George and Joan Freeman of Pennsylvania the 1998 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year. The award was presented to them Saturday, November 14, 1998 at the annual Tree Farmer convention held in Savannah, Georgia. Their love for their woodland, 30 years of superior management, and their willingness to share the accomplishments on their Tree Farm with others now brings them national honor.

"A Tree Farm is living proof that a well-managed forest is a better forest," said Bob Simpson, national director of the American Tree Farm System. "George and Joan represent the best of the best. They were selected from a field of nearly 66,000 properties. Their Tree Farm is a shining example of wise forest stewardship, and an open classroom for people to come see firsthand the benefits of sustainable forestry," he said.

"I've always felt that very little is accomplished in life without planning, good management, and hard work," said George Freeman. "Joan and I are partners in forestry, and we work hard together to improve the land that's entrusted to us by future generations. We owe our achievements and this prestigious Tree Farm award to many dedicated people who have led us through the challenges of good forestry," he said.

The Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year contest recognizes landowners for the exceptional job they are doing of enhancing the forest on their property. Winners are also chosen based on their efforts to promote the practice of sustainable forestry to other landowners and the public, and their education of future generations about long-term stewardship of our natural resources.

George and Joan Freeman own a 662-acre Tree Farm near the town of Knox in Clarion County, 60 miles north of Pittsburgh. George acquired his first 60 acres of forest land in 1957. Over the next 30 years, he and his wife added nine more parcels. The moderately hilly terrain was once farmland and forest that had been abused and neglected. Today, 95 percent of their land is wooded. The Freemans constantly seek expert advice on sustainable forestry practices with their objective of a high-quality veneer forest. Their land has been certified as a Tree Farm for 24 years. The Freeman Farm was also one of the first parcels to be enrolled in the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program in the early 1990s.

In the past 25 years the Freeman's have invested nearly 7,000 hours into improving tree stands. They have planted 51,000 trees and have had five commercial harvests since 1960. Demonstration sites show cutting practices, crop tree management, grapevine control, tree planting, and wildlife management. In collaboration with Penn State, the Freemans offered their Tree Farm as a Forest Stewardship Demonstration Area, one of eight across the state. Six two-acre demonstration plots display side-by-side comparisons of various types of thinning and regeneration harvest.

Each year, the Freeman's host dozens of tours on their property for school children, international forestry students, representatives of county, state, and national government, and other landowners. In 1997, more than 400 people attended a field day on their farm to celebrate the 50th anniversary of tree farming in Pennsylvania. In addition, the Freemans annually welcome mentally and physically challenged youth on their property in cooperation with Clarion University, its student teaching program, and an Americorps group called SMILES.

The couple also hosts nature groups, Boy Scouts, and other organizations interested in the forest environment. Some 12 of hiking and ATV trails weave through the Freeman Tree Farm, and two spring-fed ponds harbor bass, perch, bluegills, and walleye fingerlings, as well as provided waterfowl nesting and breeding grounds.
Beyond his property boundary, George participates in a variety of forest organizations to educate the public and serve the forestry community. In addiction to being one of the original members of the VIP-COVERTS Forest Stewardships Volunteer organization, he is a director of the Pennsylvania Forestry Association, treasurer of the Pennsylvania Tree Farm Committee, and chairman of both the Pennsylvania State Forest Stewardship Committee and the Clarion County Forest Stewardship Committee (which he helped establish). He was also appointed to a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Forestry Task Force.

Besides their honors from the American Tree Farm System, George and Joan have received numerous other awards for their efforts in private forest management, education, and conservation. These include the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Directors' Maurice K. Goddard Award for Outstanding Forest Management in 1981, and the Northeastern Loggers Association's Outstanding Management of Resources Award in 1998. Dr. James Fazio, professor of forestry at the University of Idaho, featured the Freemans Tree Farm in a chapter of his book, "The Woodland Steward." In addition, the Freeman Tree Farm was one of the six case studies on sustainable forestry worldwide profiled this year by the MacArthur Foundation.

Today, there are over 66,000 certified Tree Farms in the United States. The Freeman's were named Pennsylvania's Outstanding Tree Farmers in 1980, 1990, and again in 1998, only this time they went on to become the 1998 Northeast Region Outstanding Tree Farmers of the year, one of four regional winners. Finally, George and Joan went all the way to the top, winning the National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year title.

To achieve certification and become a member of the American Tree Farm System, landowners must have at least 10 contagious acres of forest land, and actively follow a written forest management plan. The plan addresses how the landowners will provide for wildlife, recreation, water and soil conservation, while producing renewable forestry products (the mandatory inclusion of forestry products production into the management plan is the primary difference between a Tree Farm plan and a Forest Steward plan.-Ed.) After their land is certified by one of the 8,000 professionals foresters who volunteer their time to the Tree Farm Program landowners earn the right to display the green and white diamond-shaped Tree Farm sign. Every five years thereafter, Tree Farms are re-inspected to ensure that landowners continue to meet the Tree Farm System's rigorous standards are guidelines for certification. Pennsylvania has 1,400 certified Tree Farms comprising nearly 475,000 acres.

Founded in 1941, the American Tree Farm System is the oldest and largest certifier of sustainable forest in the United States. The Tree Farm System is a program of the American Forest Foundation, a non-profit organization that develops, funds, and administers programs that encourage the long-term stewardship of our natural resources.

To George and Joan
from your colleagues and friends
across the state-
our heartiest congratulations 
on an honor well deserved!

(for more information about the Freeman family and their award-winning Tree Farm, See "Facilitators of Good Forestry" in the January/February 1999 issue of the Tree Farmer magazine.)

Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farm Inspectors of the Year

2018, Robb Piper, Cambria

Robb Piper has been selected as the Pennsylvania Outstanding Tree Farm Inspector for 2018.  Robb is a retired Cambria County Conservation District Manager and now works as a private consulting forester.  Robb prepares forest management p