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Forestry Board honors outstanding forest educators
News Release
March 6, 2013                   
Contact: Norie Dimeo-Ediger, Oregon Forest Resources Institute,
             971-673-2956, dimeo-ediger@ofri.org
 This is a photo of the 2012 Mary Rellergert Award Recipients and the members of the Oregon Board of Forestry.
The Oregon Board of Forestry today recognized six individuals for excellence in forestry education. The 2012 Mary Rellergert Forestry Education award winners are: the Talk About Trees program; Oregon Wood Magic creators Patricia and Jeff Morrell; and Klamath Outdoor Science School co-founder Marj Glass. The annual award honors significant contributions to public education and understanding of forestry in Oregon. 
Norie Dimeo-Ediger, director of K-12 education programs with the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI), and State Forester Doug Decker presented the awards during a Board of Forestry meeting in Salem.
As part of the awards ceremony, State Forester Doug Decker also presented the annual State Forester’s Award to Barte and Bond Starker for their exceptional contributions to the cause of forestry education. The brothers manage Starker Forests, Inc., an 80,000-acre commercial forestry operation headquartered at Philomath.
Since its inception in 1991, Portland-based Talk About Trees has reached more than 2.4 million young people ranging from pre-schoolers to middle-school students with its combined classroom and field program to encourage awareness of and appreciation for the value of trees and forests in their daily lives. Eighteen facilitators contracted throughout the state teach the program, which encourages understanding of the protection, management and conservation of the renewable forest. Talk About Trees director Joan Mason Ruud, along with Oregon Women in Timber (OWIT) members Diann Washburn and Diane Daley, received the award. OFRI has a contract with OWIT to sponsor Talk About Trees.
Tisha Morrell, University of Portland, and spouse Jeff Morrell, Oregon State University, adapted a forestry education field experience from Mississippi and brought Oregon Wood Magic to life with the help of faculty at Oregon State University’s Department of Wood Science and Engineering. Oregon Wood Magic is an interactive experience designed to educate third and fourth grade students about the wonders of wood as a material. The program takes students and their teachers through a series of nine stations that cover aspects of science and technology related to wood and wood products. Since its beginning in 1999, Oregon Wood Magic has reached more than 70,000 school children.
A Klamath Falls elementary school teacher, Marj Glass first brought her passion for natural science into the classroom in 1994 when she designed a Klamath Basin Ecosystems unit that focused on forests and wetlands. Recognizing that southern Oregon students needed greater access to hands-on learning, she helped launch the Klamath Outdoor Science School (KOSS) in 1995. A rustic summer camp in the Sun Pass State Forest made up of tents and yurts, the school is beginning construction of a pavilion that will include kitchen, dining and classroom facilities. KOSS has served hundreds of students in day and residential camps since its founding.
In 1936, Thurman James “T.J.” Starker began to purchase second-growth forests in the Oregon Coast Range. These accumulated tracts officially became known as Starker Forests in 1971. The family practices intensive forest management while also promoting and encouraging free recreational use of their lands. This includes an active educational outreach. Thousands of students have been introduced to the science of forestry through field trips and outdoor classrooms held on Starker Forests. Today, grandsons Bond and Barte Starker continue the family tradition.
“Bond and Barte Starker have been exceptional contributors to the cause of forestry education,” State Forester Doug Decker said.
The Rellergert award series honor the Oregon Department of Forestry’s former forest education coordinator, Mary Rellergert, who passed away in February 2004. Rellergert was a highly regarded forest education leader and founder of the Tillamook State Forest Education Program, which provides high quality forest learning experiences for K-12 students at the Tillamook Forest Center.
The 2012 Mary Rellergert Forestry Education Award winners were selected by a panel of forestry educators from the Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Natural Resources Education Program, and past recipients of the award.