UGA sustainable forestry coordinator wins Wise Owl Award

Donna Gallaher

Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative committee also wins award at state convention

Athens, Ga. – The Georgia Forestry Association, one of the state’s leading forestry advocacy organizations, has awarded a University of Georgia coordinator one of its highest honors for her years of service to the forestry community. The association also honored the committee she coordinates for, recognizing its efforts to promote sustainable forestry in the state.

Donna Gallaher, coordinator for the Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative and based in the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, won the Wise Owl Award from the organization, only the second woman to be given the honor in its 33-year history. The Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s Implementation Committee—which Gallaher coordinates for—won the “Evergreen Award,” just the third time the award has been given out.

Gallaher was chosen for the Wise Owl honor for her years of service and contributions to the forestry community, according to the Georgia Forestry Association. The Wise Owl Award “recognizes not only forestry advocacy but also an uncommon passion to improve the industry for all landowners and forestry-related businesses.”

Gallaher said she was shocked to win the Wise Owl Award but deeply appreciative.

“I am humbled to have been chosen for such an incredible honor,” she said. “The Wise Owl Award has been given to people who have truly made such positive impacts on the forest community—people I very much admire. To be included in this group is an amazing surprise.”

The Wise Owl Award has been given since 1980. Previous Warnell winners include Bob Izlar, director of the Center for Forest Business, and Dale Greene, professor of forest operations. Several Warnell alumni also have received the honor.

The Evergreen Award—given this year to the Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative—is awarded to an organization that has contributed to the forestry community in ways that support the Georgia Forestry Association’s advocacy mission. It is only awarded when a program has made a significant impact.

While launching a public education campaign to highlight the benefits of the sustainable forestry program in 2012, the Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative committee organized dozens of volunteers made up of organizations, companies and individuals to raise more than $110,000 to build a Habitat for Humanity home. This project highlighted the connection between sustainable forestry and the timber products that enhance the quality of life. At the end, the initiative presented a short documentary about its work, “The Sustainable Forest—A Georgia Success Story.”

Since 1995, the Georgia Sustainable Forestry Initiative has been working to promote and improve the practice of sustainable forestry across the state. Made up of 35 organizations and companies that work as a committee, the initiative encourages responsible forestry management to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations. It promotes a balanced coexistence between the management and business of forestry. For more information, see gfagrow.org.