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Rhett Johnson Ltr-Johnson Award

In Memory of Jerry Johnson*

By: Rhett Johnson, Director, Solon Dixon Forestry Education Center, Auburn University

Many of us began 2004 on a sad note with the news of the death of a valued friend and colleague, Jerry Johnson, on the last day of 2003. Jerry was the consummate professional forester, epitomizing everything our profession aspires to. He had a long career as the staff forester for NRCS in Alabama and, as such, played a role in the management of thousands of acres of private lands in the state.

Jerry was active in professional forestry and wildlife organizations and was recognized for his quiet leadership on many occasions. Notably, Jerry was on the original committee that conceived and administered the TREASURE Forest program and continued to serve on that committee through its various re-inventions until his health no longer allowed, a period of nearly 26 years. Throughout this entire time, Jerry worked diligently to guard the integrity of that program, keeping it true to its origins as a program to recognize excellence in forest land management.

Jerry was a long time member and strong supporter of the Society of American Foresters at several levels. He was recognized for his efforts with induction into the Alabama Foresters Hall of Fame in 2001. Jerry also received the Governor's Award as the Alabama Wildlife Federation's Soil Conservationist of the Year in 2000. In recognition of his role as a strong advocate of landowner's rights and the good stewardship of private land, Jerry received the Bill Moody Award from the Alabama TREASURE Forest Association in 1998.

Recounting his achievements, awards, and honors is not sufficient to describe Jerry's contributions to the world around him. He was a proud holder of Alabama Registered Forester Number 681 and represented the profession in an excellent fashion in both his personal and professional life.

He was devoted to his family and his church and lived his life accordingly. Those of us who were lucky enough to call him a friend know that we are unlikely to have a better one. A true gentleman in every sense of the word, Jerry empathized with our misfortunes, offered his assistance without hesitation, and always managed to see the silver lining in every cloud.

Jerry received his forestry degree at Auburn in 1970 and remained a proud supporter and contributor to the school throughout his professional life.

* (memorial printed in the Board of Registered Foresters’ Newsletter)