Florida SAF's Golden Members for 2000

by Barry Walsh

Samuel Davis, Robert Engelhard, Robert Greenlaw, Thaddius Harrington, William Howell, Alfred Hughes, Donald McGuire, and Harold Mikell all achieved Golden status in 2000 by virtue of their 50 years of membership in the Society. Barry Walsh profiles several of these distinguished foresters below.

Greenlaw trained soil conservationists in farmlot forestry

SAF Golden Member Robert E. Greenlaw (center above), a retired U.S. Soil Conservation Service forester, resides in Titusville. He was a guest of honor at the Dec. 13th Forestry Centennial ceremonies at the University of Florida’s Austin Cary Memorial Forest northeast of Gainesville.

Greenlaw earned a forestry degree from Michigan State University in 1949 and began his career as a tree trimmer with a private firm and the City of Detroit. He then became an Assistant Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service, working throughout the Midwest in Wisconsin, Missouri, and Illinois.

In 1962, he accepted the position of Woodland Conservationist with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. His focus was on training federal soil conservationists to recognize opportunities for forest management on the nation’s farms. His career took him to six New England states, Wisconsin, and California. In 1973, after an 11-year career in soil conservation, Greenlaw retired to Titusville.

He has devoted his retirement years to volunteer and public service work for
fraternal organizations including the Azan Temple, Masons, where he served as Potentate, and the Shriners. The highlight of his forestry career,

Greenlaw notes, would have to be the people he met and trained in woodland conservation along the way.

Thaddeus Harrington did both forest management and research

SAF Golden Member Thaddeus Harrington (second from left above), a retired U.S. Forest Service manager and resident of Gainesville, was a guest of honor at the Dec. 13th Forestry Centennial ceremonies held at the University of Florida’s Austin Cary Memorial Forest near Gainesville.

Harrington grew up in Montana and worked on his uncle’s cattle ranch as a young man. Returning from service in the U.S. Navy in World War II, he enrolled at Iowa State, worked summers for the U.S. Forest Service and Park Service, and completed a forestry degree in three years. He then became a timber cruiser and sawmill operator for the U.S. Forest Service in Indiana, Illinois, and Mississippi. With a year of GI Bill eligibility remaining, he took time out to pursue graduate forestry studies at Syracuse University and to find himself a wife, which he did.

Subsequent Forest Service assignments included Forest Research administration and national forest management. For ten years, he was project leader of naval stores (turpentine) research at the Forest Service Lab in Olustee, Florida, and for another 10 years, Assistant Director of Forest Research for Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. He then headed back home to Montana as Assistant Director of Forest Research in Montana and Idaho. He published 60 research publications along the way

After retiring in 1982, he and his wife headed back south, settling in Gainesville. Among the highlights of his career, Harrington recalls being invited to inspect a healthy forest stand with trees 18 inches in diameter and ready for timber harvest, where he had supervised a successful clearcut 25 years earlier. "Everything foresters do," he said, " is for tomorrow." He notes that an unintended consequence of the Environmental Movement’s campaign to reduce U.S. timber harvests is that countries in the Tropics, without professional forest management, are destroying their rain forests to supply the world’s demand for wood and paper.

Harrington, who has a son a forestry professor at the University of Georgia, believes foresters must do a better job of explaining forest management to the public.

Alfred Hughes, industrial forester, started planting trees at age 9

SAF Golden Member Alfred L. Hughes, a retired International Paper Corp. forest manager and long-time resident of Madison, was a guest of honor at the Dec. 13th celebration marking the centennial of professional forestry in America. The celebration, touted as Forestry’s Birthday Party, was held at the University of Florida’s Austin Cary Memorial Forest northeast of Gainesville.

Hughes began his interest in forestry at age 9, when he helped his father plant trees to reclaim eroded farmland in New Jersey in 1928. He recalls his father, a philosophy professor whose avocation was trees, marking off two steps and using a mattock (broad-bladed pick) to dig a hole. Hughes followed behind with a bucket of seedlings. He went on to study botany and biology at LeHigh University in Pennsylvania and then switched to forestry at the University of Montana. After serving as a U.S. Navy bomber pilot on the USS Yorktown in World War II, he went into logging but experienced hard times during a succession of postwar railroad and coal strikes.

He then joined International Paper as a timber cruiser in Georgia, completed his forestry degree at the University of Georgia, and worked in forest management in North Carolina, Alabama, and Florida. He and his family settled in Madison in the 1950s. After retiring from IPC in 1979, he did some forestry consulting and worked for the Madison County Property Appraiser. The highlight of his career, he says, has been tree planting, starting with those seedlings he planted with his father back in 1928.

Harold Mikell, retired State Forester, is congressional aide

SAF Golden Member Harold K. Mikell (far right above), retired from the position of State Forester in Florida, continues to serve as an Agricultural and Natural Resources Liaison in the Tallahassee office of U.S. Congressman Alan Boyd. Mikell was a guest of honor at the Dec. 13th celebration marking the centennial of professional forestry in America. The ceremonies were held at the Austin Cary Memorial Forest, operated by the University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation, where he studied as an undergraduate. Over the years, he has served as the UF School of Forestry Alumni Association President and as SAF Florida Section Chair.

In 1991, Mikell retired as head of the Division of Forestry in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in Tallahassee after a 41-year career. A native Floridian born and reared in Gilchrist County, he first studied forestry as part of Vocational Agricultural Training in high school. That was when he planted his first trees. Returning from World War II service in the Navy Air Corps, he earned a B.S. degree in forestry, and that same banner year, 1950, joined the Florida Forest Service (now Division of Forestry). He moved up from Apprentice Forester to Information and Education Forester, District Forester, Assistant Chief of Fire Control, and Chief of Fire Control. In 1970, he became Assistant Director and in 1987, Director. His leadership in fire control won him a Bronze Smokey from the USDA Forest Service, and he served on the Land Acquisition Selection Committee that recommended conservation and recreation land purchases to the Governor and Cabinet.

After retiring, he joined the staff of U.S. Congressman Pete Peterson and now works in the Tallahassee office of Congressman Boyd.

Mikell says that the highlight of his career would have to be when, as State Forester, he presided at the planting of the 5 billionth tree seedling in Florida. That ceremony took place on the Capitol grounds in Tallahassee in 1990. He notes that before Florida organized its Forest Service in 1928, trees were being cut, but seedlings weren’t being planted in any organized way. It took the State 30 years to celebrate the planting of its 1 billionth seedling in 1958; but in the next 30 years, with Mikell at the helm, that number quadrupled. Recalling that, over the years, some of his friends would complain how they didn’t like their jobs, he declares, "I’ve never woke up a day that I didn’t want to go at it."