Wanda and Earl

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					Wanda and Earl
By
     BARRS
     BRIGITTE
                                                                                Inspire Others to
                                                                               Share Their Vision
Johnson                                                           2006 BASF Outstanding Achievements
                                   L-R: Michelle Isenberg, Amie
                                   Dunn, Earl Barrs, Wanda
                                                                         in Sustainable Forestry Award
                                   Barrs, and Chuck Anderson.
                                                                                            Editor’s Note: The BASF Outstanding Achievements
                                                                                            in Sustainable Forestry Award, a cooperative award
                                                                                              between BASF Corp. and the American Tree Farm
                                                                                               System, recognizes the superior stewardship and
                                                                                             outreach activities of leaders in the forestry profes-
                                                                                                sion. This year’s winners, Wanda and Earl Barrs,
                                                                                            were selected by five independent judges to receive
                                                                                          the award and the accompanying $5,000 stipend. The
                                                                                            Barrs received their award at the 2006 National Tree
 Earl and
 Wanda                                                                                      Farmer Convention in Mobile, Alabama, in October.
 Barrs



Sometimes people find their calling in life and it coincides                               Branch to its current size.

with what they love. Earl and Wanda Barrs are two of these                                 Wanda has taken her professional train-
                                                                                           ing in education and created a network
lucky people. They have blended their love of forestry, the                                of dedicated teachers and students
                                                                                           whom she enlightened to the benefits of
outdoors, and education and have made a profound impact
                                                                                           and the science behind sustainable
on their community. Together, they created not only a Tree                                 forestry. As a forester, Earl, with Wanda
                                                                                           at his side, manages his forestry con-
Farm but a living, breathing example of good stewardship.                                  sulting firm with the same intensity and
                                                                                           focus as he does his own property. Their
The Barrs share their passion for sus-        Georgia. Following graduation from           clients are advised of their stewardship
tainable forestry by using their              the University of Georgia, Earl with a       responsibility and encouraged to sup-
1,200-acre Tree Farm, Gully Branch, as        bachelor of science degree in forest         port sustainable forestry through sound
an outdoor environmental classroom for        resource management, and Wanda               management practices and plans for
students, educators, forestry profession-     with a degree in home economics edu-         sustainable growth.
als, and others. For 32 years the Barrs       cation, they married.
have merged their intense love of                                                          Wanda’s training as a Project Learning
forestry and education to create learning     Gully Branch Tree Farm represents a          Tree® (PLT) facilitator gives her the tools
opportunities that will impact their com-     special place for the Barrs. This partic-    to deliver quality environmental educa-
munity for generations to come. Located       ular parcel of land had been                 tion. PLT, the national environmental
in Cochran, Georgia, their certified Tree     sharecropped in the 1930s by Earl’s          education program of the American
Farm is a diverse stand of loblolly and       great-grandfather and grandfather.           Forest Foundation, is highly regarded as
mixed upland and bottomland hard-             However, when presented with the             one of the premiere environmental edu-
woods, a 40-acre lake, several ponds,         opportunity, they were unable to pur-        cation programs in the country and
wetlands, and a haven for wildlife.           chase the land. Decades later, in 1986,      abroad. Wanda was named a PLT
                                              Earl purchased the initial 411 acres         National Outstanding Educator of the
Wanda and Earl’s story began in high          from a timber company, reclaiming            Year in 1996, Georgia PLT Educator of
school where they were high school            that same land. During the next 14           the Year in 1990 and 1995, and Georgia
sweethearts in Bleckley County,               years he and Wanda expanded Gully            PLT Facilitator of the Year in 2001.

10                                                                                                      Tree Farmer    JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007
Gully Branch Tree Farm was one of the        and adults have enjoyed a wagon ride         Board of Education and she now
field day sites for the Georgia Teacher      around the farm while learning the           serves as its chair. She was a propo-
Conservation Workshop in 2005 and            aspects of forest management.                nent for Georgia’s Performance
2006. Sponsored by the Georgia                                                            Standards in Science, which focus on
Forestry Association, Earl and Wanda         The Barrs are also sustainable forestry      doing science rather than viewing sci-
hosted these workshops that focused on       advocates at the state level. Governor       ence. As part of her many
conservation, sustainable forestry,          Sonny Perdue appointed Earl to the           responsibilities with educators and
wood products, and wildlife habitat          Georgia Economic Development Board           legislators, Wanda makes sure that
management. Educators and profes-            in 2003. In this capacity, Earl created      sound educational principles, includ-
sional foresters who explored Gully          opportunities to engage state economic       ing science and environmental
Branch Tree Farm as students are find-       development partners and private and         education, are at the heart of the dis-
ing their way back and sharing their love    industrial forest landowners in discus-      cussion.
of forestry with a new generation of stu-    sions aimed at developing long term
dents. During the 2005 field day, a          strategic plans for the future of forestry   The Barrs are living their vision for
middle school science teacher fondly         in Georgia. Earl also brings his balanced    Gully Branch — a living forest labora-
remembered her participation in a pre-       approach to forestry, land, water, and       tory for promoting and growing a vital
service PLT workshop as a college            air quality to the Georgia Department of     sustainable resource for present and
student five years earlier. Now she          Natural Resources Board. Currently,          future generations. The Barrs believe
brings her students to the Tree Farm for     Earl is working with leaders in power        Georgia can be green while growing
their educational enrichment. It’s           production and biomass research to           wood for products, creating wildlife
extremely rewarding for Earl and             promote a strong partnership for devel-      habitat, conserving water, enhancing
Wanda to watch children experience           oping alternative uses for the               lands, and supporting a high quality
Gully Branch and return as leaders in        tremendous supply of pulp generated          of life for its citizens.
the classroom for future generations.        in Georgia. He is also an active member
                                             of the Georgia Forestry Association’s        Brigitte Johnson is executive editor of Tree
Every April is dedicated to forestry edu-    Board of Directors and Executive             Farmer Magazine and director of communica-
cation field trips for students, teachers,   Committee.                                   tions for the American Forest Foundation.
and parents of Bleckley County Schools.                                                   Tim Lowrimore, director of forest policy for
Through this countywide initiative,          In 2003, Wanda was appointed by              the Georgia Forestry Association Inc., also
thousands and thousands of children          Governor Perdue to the Georgia State         contributed to this article.

Tree Farmer   JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2007                                                                                                 11

				
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