Missouri Tree Farm 70th Anniversary Celebration Successful Event

The Missouri Tree Farm 70th Anniversary Celebration was held March 1-2 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia. This event was offered to landowners and others interested in learning more about the benefits of managing woodland areas on their properties. The focus of the event was to increase participation in the Tree Farm System, a national program for woodland owners who are committed to sustainably managing their forested property for wood, water, wildlife and recreation.


Matt Jones, Missouri Tree Farm Committee Chair, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The 70th Anniversary Celebration was hosted by the Forest and Woodland Association of Missouri (FWAM). FWAM was founded in 2011 as a public advocacy voice for privately owned woodlands, to promote healthy, productive and sustainable forests and trees. They are also the administrator of the Missouri Tree Farm System. 

Friday afternoon afforded some attendees the opportunity to visit Barrel 53 Cooperage in Higbee. Barrel 53 is a family-owned and operated whiskey barrel cooperage and stave manufacturer. Every barrel is aged and refined using premium Missouri White Oak. Tours were offered of both the cooperage and stave mill, along with tastings. Hank Stelzer, State Forestry Extension Specialist with the School of Natural Resources at the University of Missouri, served as the guide for the tours.

Friday evening was filled with much camaraderie as attendees enjoyed a cocktail reception at Bass Pro Shops prior to the banquet and awards ceremony. Chris Erwin, Director of the American Tree Farm System spoke on Advocacy and Legislative Process. Matt Jones presented the Outstanding Tree Farm Inspectors with plaques. Lisa Allen, Missouri State Forester, recognized Columbia resident Mike Trial as the 2018 Missouri Tree Farmer of the Year.

Annually, the Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award recognizes private landowners that have done an exceptional job of forest management on their property and are also actively promoting sustainable forestry. Through this award program, these individuals are honored as leaders in good forestry while their land demonstrates the benefits of good forest management. Mike recently received his 50-year Tree Farm certificate. He intensively manages 50 acres of walnut plantations that were planted by him and his father, George on his Tree Farm located in Boone County.

Hank Stelzer and Rick Merritt, Missouri Tree Farm Committee Vice Chairman, recognized Columbia resident Scott Brundage with the John P. Slusher Tree Farm Service award. This award is presented to either Tree Farm members or non-members who have performed distinguished service to the Tree Farm Program on a sustained basis. Scott owns multiple Tree Farms and has been a long-time member of the Missouri Tree Farm Committee. He has been a vocal advocate for private forest management for over 50 years.

On Saturday approximately 150 attendees met at the Garden Conference Center where they participated in a day filled with concurrent educational sessions on woodland topics aimed at helping them reach their management goals. Concurrent sessions topics included: Black Walnut Initiative, Chestnuts & Ozark Chinquapins, Estate Planning & Succession, Invasive Species, Timber Markets Present & Future, Timber Stand Improvement & Cost Share, Tree Pests & Diseases, and Wildlife Habitat Enhancement.

John Tuttle, Forest Management Chief with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), started the day off by providing on overview of forest management on MDC property. He also talked about the various ways MDC provides assistance to private forest landowners.

Garret Nowell with Independent Stave Company spoke during the luncheon on the White Oak Initiative in Missouri. Since 1912 Independent Stave has crafted quality cooperage products for the wine and spirits industry. Independent Stave continues to evolve thanks to a commitment to quality and innovation, dedicated associates, and a continued interest in collaborating with distillers and winemakers around the world.

Thank you to all the event sponsors, presenters, vendors, donors and especially to all the attendees for your continued interest in Missouri’s forests and trees.