Campus News

UGA’s Warnell School honors distinguished alumni

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources recognized two alumni recently, bestowing the distinguished alumnus and distinguished young alumnus awards on two men who have made significant contributions to the forestry industry while strongly supporting their alma mater.

Claude Yearwood, who received his bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1969, was named the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. Michael Westbrook, who received his bachelor’s degree in forest resources in 2005 and his master’s degree in 2008, won the 2014 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.

“Michael and Claude have both been incredible supporters of Warnell and have made tremendous impacts on the forestry industry,” said Mike Clutter, dean of the Warnell School. “It is a pleasure to name them our 2014 distinguished alumni because of their involvement in our alumni groups and their assistance in helping guide Warnell’s fundraising and educational goals. Their contributions are invaluable, and they are both committed to equipping a new generation of natural resources professionals.”

Inducted into the Georgia Foresters Hall of Fame in 2013, Yearwood retired earlier this year as manager of operations, chief operating officer and vice president of the Price Companies. His career has spanned decades in the private forestry industry, first as a consulting forester and land surveyor in central Georgia. He moved from there to other companies, increasing job responsibilities and leadership positions.

Yearwood has served as president of the Georgia Forestry Association, president of the UGA Warnell Alumni Association, chairman of the Warnell Steering Committee, Jayhole Club Big Jay Hook and treasurer of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. He has served in many leadership capacities in the Society of American Foresters, including Georgia division chair, Southeastern SAF chair and member of the National House of Society Delegates.

He was instrumental in founding the Billy Lancaster Forestry Youth Camp for educating youth about natural resource management and was a regular volunteer. He continues to be one of the camp’s biggest fundraisers and promoters. He attends Liberty United Methodist Church where he is the trustee chairman.

“I have always felt blessed to graduate from the forestry school, work in forestry for so many years and deal with the many wonderful people in this profession,” Yearwood said. “To be given this honor by the school is truly ‘over the top’ for me.”

Westbrook is the recipient of the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, given annually to graduates who are active supporters of the Warnell School, are 40 years old or younger and have graduated within the last 10 years.

He is the Atlantic Region manager for the Westervelt Company, responsible for the management and financial performance of the forest products company’s land assets in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.

Westbrook is extremely active in supporting roles for the Warnell School and the forest industry. He serves on the SFI Implementation Committee, has been chairman of the Savannah Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, is part of the Georgia Forestry Association’s emerging leaders program and was chair of Warnell’s Young Alumni Committee from 2011 to 2012. As a member of the Young Alumni Committee, he raises money for the school’s assistantships and technology upgrades. He is currently a member of Warnell’s Alumni Steering Committee.

Westbrook said he is honored to receive the award from a school that is key to the success of Georgia’s forestry industry.

“Warnell has given a lot to me, and that’s the reason I try to make a big effort of giving back to the school,” he said. “Warnell provides so many valuable resources to our industry, so I want to help make sure that it can continue to accomplish its education, research and service goals.”

For more information on the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, see