Season 9 - South Carolina Tree Farmers - Land of Legacy Series | Episode 8

#164 | I couldn’t have done anything more rewarding

March 11, 2021 | George D. Kessler, Ph.D.

On this episode of the Land of Legacy series, you’ll sit with, laugh with and travel through Tree Farm history with Dr. George D. Kessler, Professor Emeritus of Forestry at Clemson University.

George wasn’t brought up in and around the woods, but the woods sure grew up around him. His early career trajectory began in an agricultural field, but quickly turned into a passion for forestry. This passion has rubbed off on thousands of forestry students, forest industry professionals, school teachers, kids, and Tree Farmers. From humble beginnings, you’ll hear about Georges’ first forestry job out west, landing his job at Clemson, developing breakthrough education strategies long before cable TV, and collaborating widely to grow his reach and meet those demands in the name of forestry education.

However, George didn’t just teach forestry at Clemson and to landowners statewide; he also taught it right at home. When his kids asked for some money, he showed them right where to find it, in the woods, growing trees, growing a work ethic, and growing their own investment all at the same time.

You’ll marvel at his career that has touched many thousands of lives and many millions of acres that are better off today for George having lived and loved forestry. Along his journey, he met many wonderful landowners, but a special guest on this episode reveals some surprising stories you may not have heard before.

  • 2002 Clemson Cooperative Extension Superior Performance Award
  • 2002 National Technology Transfer award from Society of American Foresters
  • 2014 Henry Hardtner award for landowner education from Southern Group of State Foresters
  • 2015 Charles H. Flory Distinguished Service Award from the Forestry Association of South Carolina
  • 2017 Lifetime Achievement Recognition by the South Carolina State Government and the Forestry Association of South Carolina
  • 2018 National Leadership Award of the American Tree Farm System

This is just a short list of the many awards and accomplishments Dr. Kessler has received over the years, but stay to the end of the show to find out his true reward.

Listen now, and share this series with others, who – like our SC Tree Farmers – love the land and put the family in family forestry!

Navigation Points:

[4:10] A little bit about Dr. Kessler and his family.

[8:25] George knew he wanted to be a forester in high school!

[11:35] How did George get started in forestry?

[13:00] What is Dr. Kessler most proud of in his career so far?

[18:20] Landowners were eager to take any sort of forestry education they could get their hands on!

[21:45] George shares how he got children involved and excited about learning more about the environment. It was a slow start at first.

[26:50] Dr. Kessler is involved in a Christmas Tree Farm as well. He explains what that means.

[30:00] How did the Tree Farm program get started in South Carolina?

[33:30] Dr. Kessler has fostered a beautiful community of Tree Farmers in South Carolina.

[35:45] How did Dr. Kessler and the Tree Farm Committee finance the South Carolina Tree Farm Program?

[37:00] George and the Tree Farm Committee are proud that they have about 600,000 acres of actively managed Tree Farms in the program!

[39:00] What does Dr. Kessler see for the future when it comes to the South Carolina Tree Farm Program?

[42:00] Hear about how Dr. Kessler approaches Tree Farming. He can be “stubborn as a mule”!

[44:40] What legacy would Dr. Kessler like to leave behind?

For More Information:

South Carolina Tree Farm

Forestry Association of South Carolina

South Carolina Forestry Commission

The Center for Heirs Property Preservation

Clemson Cooperative Extension

George D. Kessler, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Forestry at Clemson University

Emily Oakman, Director of Landowner Outreach, Forestry Education and Programs at Forestry Association of South Carolina and Producer of the Land of Legacy Series




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