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Hopkins, Straka, Richman Lead Award Winners
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FLA honors longtime contributors at national conference in Asheville.

The 2017 Forest Landowner Award winners from left: Tom Straka (Extension Forester of the Year), Alex Richman (Young Forest Landowner of the Year) and Joe Hopkins (Landowner of the Year). 

 

By Pete Williams

With FLA holding its annual National Conference of Private Forest Landowners in Asheville, N.C., in June near the birthplace of U.S. forestry, it was appropriate that the organization recognized a number of its longtime contributors.

Joe Hopkins, who has spent nearly three decades at the helm of his family’s Toledo Manufacturing in Folkston, Ga., while working in a number of forestry leadership roles, including FLA President from 2013-2015, received the Forest Landowner of the Year Award.

Hopkins, who now serves as President of the Forest Landowner Foundation, received the award from outgoing FLA President Scott Rowland, who succeeded Hopkins in that role in 2015. Hopkins accepted the award with his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie, whom he credited for his success.

 “She’s been with me every step of the way,” said Hopkins, who is profiled in this issue of Forest Landowner magazine starting on page 12. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten home at 2 a.m. after driving back from a forestry meeting and she never once complained.”

Alexandra “Alex” Richman, a fourth-generation landowner from Lynchburg, Tenn., who serves as chief operating officer of the Cumberland Springs Land Co., received the Young Forest Landowner of the Year Award.

Richman, 34, the great-great grand niece of iconic whiskey manufacturer Jack Daniel, manages more than 6,000 acres of family forestland. Her grandfather and siblings sold the distillery more than 60 years ago. But the land that Daniel’s nephew and Richman’s great-grandfather, Lem Motlow, acquired to diversify his fortune during Prohibition remains in the family.

During the conference, Richman also became a second-generation FLA board member. Her mother, Mary Motlow, joined the board shortly before her death in an auto accident in 2012. Richman and her family’s forest legacy were featured in the March/April issue of Forest Landowner magazine.

 “I’m very humbled and honored to receive this award,” said Richman, who often is among the youngest attendees and only woman at forestry-related gatherings.

The next generation of forestry was a recurring theme at the conference with a number of younger landowners on hand and several panel discussions geared specifically for that audience. As usual, the Forest Landowner Foundation awarded scholarships to three local forestry students. Two of the three were on hand to accept their awards.

Corey Patrick Green is a Ph.D. candidate in forest biometrics at Virginia Tech, having earned two degrees from the University of Georgia and worked for two years with a forestry consulting firm. The Eagle Scout and certified wildland firefighter “represents the future of forestry,” said Virginia Tech professor Harold Burkhart, who nominated Green for the scholarship.

Clemson undergraduate Tim Schumann is a double major in Forest and Wildlife, along with Fisheries Biology, and a minor in Environmental Science and Policy. Schumann has been heavily involved in Clemson’s forestry club.

“Tim understands that the club is the face of our forestry program and leads by example when it comes to professionalism, outreach and service,” said Clemson professor Donald Hagan, who nominated him for the award.

Clemson also was represented in the Extension Forester of the Year Award, which went to Tom Straka, a longtime forestry professor. Straka has served at Clemson since 1989 following eight years at Mississippi State and five years as a forester at International Paper. An active consulting forester and researcher, he is a noted forest economist and prolific writer, contributing to both forestry publications and mainstream media.

 For the last four years Straka has been a key member of FLA’s publications committee, contributing regularly to this magazine. He received the award from former FLA president Harry Haney, himself a publications committee member, who was a faculty member at Virginia Tech when Straka received his Ph.D. there in 1981.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated for this award by Harry,” Straka said.

FLA CEO Scott Jones presented the Corporate Member Award to Forest Investment Associates. The Atlanta company acquires and manages timberland portfolios for corporate pension plans, state and municipal retirement systems, endowments and foundations and has been a longtime supporter of FLA.

 FIA Vice President Charlie VanOver, once Jones’s Boy Scout troop leader, accepted the award. “We’ve been very blessed at Forest Landowners Association to have the support of FIA,” Jones said.

 

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