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I grew up in Illinois near St. Louis.  I lived in town, but my dad owned a small farm with horses.  I would go out with him and he would let me steer his van when we got to the county road near the farm.  I always enjoyed the outdoors.  During my teenage years a close friends father would take us camping in the Irish wilderness in Missouri.  It was those camping trips that I decided I wanted to be a forester, or at least a forest ranger.  I have always worked a lot (at the cost of school grades), and following high school that continued.  I never thought I would get to do what I actually wanted to do.  That changed when I was 20.  At that point, all my work experience was in the restaurant industry.  I remember going to a recruiting agency.  I was burned out with the restaurant business and thought maybe they could find me something outside of this industry.  The only jobs they had for me were more food industry jobs.  I decided it was time for a change.

My brother in law worked for a company in St. Louis that made windows and door frames.  They owned a sawmill in Missoula Montana that created the parts they needed.  Missoula is home to the University of Montana, and they have a forestry school.  He was able to get me a job at the mill that paid good.  I then applied, and was accepted to the University of Montana forestry school.  I spent 18 months in Montana and finished my freshman year at the university.

I decided that Montana was not for me, and transferred to Southern Illinois University.  Four years later I received my degree in forest management.  Forestry jobs were scarce, and fortunately myself and nine other forestry graduates got temporary jobs with the U.S. Forest Service in Thorne Bay, Alaska.  What an experience!  Not only did I have the time of my life, I also met my future wife.  Alaska has a lot of things, but it doe not have a lot of women-lucky me.

The federal forestry job was temporary, so I need to find something permanent.  While in college, the Kentucky Division of Forestry was in need of foresters.  One of my friends already worked there and recommended I apply.  I did, and was hired to work out of the Elizabethtown office.  I thought I was set for life, and in fact, if I had stayed with them, I would be retired today.  The thing most folks don’t know about working in natural resources is that the higher you move up in responsibility, the more you move out of field work.  I never felt productive in the office, and the politics of government left me disillusioned.

My dad owned his own business and I too longed to do something on my own.  At the time, consulting forestry was not well known and accepted in Kentucky.  I knew several consultants who got out of the business to do other things.  That left an opening that I felt would give me an opportunity.  I had no idea how I would do, or if I would be successful.  Several people thought it was a mistake, but I plowed forward.  My wife Beth Ann worked at Mammoth Cave and we had her income in case I went bust.  Well, that was over 28 years ago and I am still going strong.  I am more passionate about forestry than ever.  I have been able to sell timber for clients on the same woodland that I sold when I went into business.  Good forest management doesn’t cost, it pays, I promise.




Marked ash tree, 2021

Future wife and me with silver salmon in Alaska