Each year the Society of American Foresters (SAF) recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the forestry profession.

Two of the 2019 national award winners have ties to West Virginia, including a native of Mingo County, Robert Beanblossom, who received the 2019 Hagenstein Communicator Award.

The Hagenstein Communicator Award recognizes an SAF member who leads innovative and exemplary communications initiatives and programs that increase the general public’s understanding of forestry and natural resources.

Beanblossom worked for the West Virginia Division of Forestry and Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation over his 43-year career. Since he retired in 2015, he has held the unofficial title of ambassador for the Cradle of Forestry, the birthplace of scientific forestry in America.

Beanblossom has used his vast knowledge to communicate the value of forestry to very diverse audiences. He has led programs and tours ranging from elementary school groups to graduate-level collegiate groups.

Regardless of the audience, he has demonstrated tremendous skill in delivering messages that can be easily understood by the target audiences.

His research into the lives of our forestry pioneers has yielded an abundance of authentic stories that enrich our heritage and make our historic site come alive.

His stories allow modern day visitors to understand the contributions of Pinchot, Schenck, Brandeis and others, for the purpose of increasing appreciation for today’s forests and the living legacy created by our early foresters.

Beanblossom has written numerous articles for local, state, regional, national and international publications that have brought welcome attention to the Cradle of Forestry and the significance of the forestry profession. He has spoken at Rotary Clubs and other venues where forestry in not a common topic.

In all of his presentations, Beanblossom’s unassuming personality and unique style capture the interest of the respective audiences. His sincere enthusiasm for forestry is contagious to anyone who hears his presentations or reads the stories or articles he researches and writes.

He has contributed to The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Wonderful West Virginia Magazine and Goldenseal, a publication of the state’s Division of Culture and History.

On numerous occasions, Beanblossom has served as a public information officer and/or fire prevention specialist for local, regional and national wildfire incidents. These assignments are completed under challenging conditions and his dedication to providing accurate information is readily apparent.

Mary Beth Adams, a native of Elkins, West Virginia, was also named as the recipient of the Barrington Moore Memorial Award.

The mission of the SAF is to advance sustainable management of forest resources through science, education, and technology; to enhance the competency of its members; to establish professional excellence; and to use our knowledge, skills and conservation ethic to ensure the continued health, integrity and use of forests to benefit society in perpetuity.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.