2017 Tree Farmer of the Year

Saint Meinrad Archabbey of St. Meinrad, Indiana is the 2017 Tree Farmer of the Year. The Archabbey has practiced sustainable forestry since 1948 and been in the national Tree Farm System since 1956. They were selected for their long term (70 years) stewardship of resources for timber, water, and wildlife while also providing opportunities for recreation and hunting and fishing. Father Guy Mansini accepted the award at the Tree Farm Breakfast at the Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association convention in Indianapolis on February 7, 2018.Photo Credit: Anita Howard Photography

Their forest management has been guided by keeping the management plan current with revision as necessary, with revisions in 2009, 2013, and 2014. Foresters have inspected the woodlands every 5 years and included looking for insects and diseases. Over the years they have conducted timber harvests on over 1,000 acres which removed about 2.5 million board feet of timber and over 750 thousand cords of pulpwood. Guided by professional foresters, the Archabbey used a combination of cutting methods including selection, group selection, and clearcutting.

Tree planting has been a part of their management with the first planting occurring in 1948. More recently they planted hardwoods on over 450 acres on former crop land that flooded occasionally. Some of the tree planting is part of a carbon sequestration project for the American Electric Power Company. Also, the Archabbey conducted timber stand improvement on over 750 acres to improve the quality of the timber stands.

The Archabbey has shared their forest management experiences with Lincoln Hills RC&D woodland owners and representatives of Indiana Society of American Foresters. They have utilized the expertise of Indiana Department of Natural Resources district foresters, consulting foresters, industrial foresters, and Natural Resources Conservation Service staff.

The Saint Meinrad Archabbey was established in 1854 by monks from Einsiedein Abbey in Switzerland. It is a community of Roman Catholic Benedictine monks with about 95 monks living, praying, and working. The Benedictine motto is “Ora et labora” (pray and work). It is “ora” or “pray” that comes first.

The Tree Farmer of the Year award is sponsored by Indiana Tree Farm. Recognition of outstanding professionalism in sustainable forestry practices is one of their objectives. Education is the other objective. Awardees are selected by the Indiana Tree Farm Committee which has 31 members representing a cross section of forestry professionals in the state.

Ken Day is a retired forester and former Woodland Steward Institute board member. Prior to his retirement, he most recently served as Forest Supervisor for the USDA Forest Service, Hoosier National Forest.