wis-forestry-hall-of-fame.jpg Rich Heritage in the Wisconsin Hall of Fame

Some of the greatest leaders in forestry are housed within the Trainer Natural Resource building. Many students and alumni have walked right by, not realizing some of the roots of Wisconsin’s forestry history stemming from their own Alma mater.

The Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame, founded in 1984, was created as a way to recognize those who have contributed significantly to the practice and progress of forestry in Wisconsin. Since 1984, there have been 43 inductees, one is a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point alumnus and two are former faculty members.            

John Kotar (BS resource management ’65), the most recent inductee, spent his forestry career as a professor in education and research at the University of Minnesota- Duluth, Michigan Tech and UW-Madison. Kotar’s mark in forestry was left when he created the Forest Habitat Type Classification (FHTCS) for Wisconsin. The FHTCS is an excellent tool for resource professionals to manage lands better. Not only is the tool John Kotar, pictured with his family, is the most recent Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame Inducteeutilized for the evaluation of site quality, successional potentials and ecological alternatives it has been used as a forest certification tool because of its capability to measure ecological implications of various species and forest types. He also created FHTCS for Minnesota and Michigan. He speaks frequently at forest symposia, workshops and conferences throughout the Lake States and has been a leader in the Society of American Foresters (SAF) serving in various roles at the local, state and national level, including SAF Council and Wisconsin SAF chair-elect. There are few resource professionals who have not been trained by Kotar and fewer who do not refer to the FHTCS guidelines in their daily work.  

Two other inductees with ties to the University were Emeriti Professors Robert Engelhard, inducted in 2009, and William Sylvester, inducted in 1992. Engelhard a native of Milwaukee started his career in natural resources in 1956 as a forester with Robert EngelhardTrees for Tomorrow at Eagle River and was hired by Wisconsin State University–Stevens Point, now the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, in 1965. He received the Excellence in Teaching award three times and was named the College’s outstanding faculty member for 1972, 1975 and 1991. He was a key leader in developing the four-track forestry major, co-leading the effort to transition the Conservation Department to a fully accredited forestry program. As part of that effort he led the development of the College’s signature six week summer field experience, now held at Treehaven, and a summer program in the Black Forest of Germany which evolved into the present day European Environmental Studies Seminar. Engelhard retired in 1991 after a 25-year teaching career.

Bill Sylvester.jpgSylvester earned a degree in Forestry from the University of Michigan in 1937 and his Graduate Degree in Forestry from Yale University in 1938. Over the course of his lifetime, he was instrumental in the planting of 23 million trees in Wisconsin. From 1946 to 1970, he was Chief Forester for Trees for Tomorrow. In his second career, he served as an associate professor in the UW-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources (CNR). His most lasting contribution to the world of conservation education was the brokering of the donation of land from the Vallier family to provide for the current day Treehaven facility in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. Treehaven is home to the CNR's six-week summer field experience where students receive hands-on training in all aspects of natural resource management. Sylvester died in August of 2011 but his legacy lives on through his personal and professional accomplishments.

Take a few moments to embrace Wisconsin and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s rich forestry history at the Wisconsin Forestry Hall of Fame in the east lobby of the Daniel O. Trainer Natural Resource building, 800 Reserve Street, Stevens Point, Wisconsin or visit www.wisconsinforestry.org/hall-of-fame.