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Lifetime achievement award honors former HCC instructor

Retired Haywood Community College forestry instructor John Palmer (right) received the 2019 EcoForesters Root Cause Lifetime Achievement Award, with Aimee Tomcho of the Audubon Society (left) winning the Sustainable Use of Forest Products Award and landowners Linda and Ellis Fincher receiving the EcoForester of the Year Award. Donated photo Retired Haywood Community College forestry instructor John Palmer (right) received the 2019 EcoForesters Root Cause Lifetime Achievement Award, with Aimee Tomcho of the Audubon Society (left) winning the Sustainable Use of Forest Products Award and landowners Linda and Ellis Fincher receiving the EcoForester of the Year Award. Donated photo

Retired Haywood Community College forestry instructor John Palmer has been honored with a Lifetime Achievement award in the annual EcoForesters’ Root Cause Awards. 

“EcoForesters is committed to tell the story of how past management has degraded our forests and made them more susceptible to the stressors of climate change, invasive species and development,” said a press release announcing the award. “While our efforts are making a difference, how we teach our future foresters stands the chance to have an even greater impact. So, when an educator of the likes of John Palmer retires after 30 years, it is important to honor him.”

During his time as a forestry management instructor at HCC, Palmer taught students about the importance of sustainable forestry while emerging as a leader in the field. He began the Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Meet that now bears his name and is held every October at the Cradle of Forestry in America in the Pisgah National Forest. 

Former students recall how he would take them on field trips to see specific trees, also leading a study tour to the Everglades so students could appreciate ecosystems other than those found in Appalachia. 

Additional Root Cause winners this year were Aimee Tomcho of the Audubon Society, who won the Sustainable Use of Forest Products award for leading the Forestry for Birds program that aims to increase the amount and quality of bird habitat, and Linda and Ellis Fincher, who received the EcoForester of the Year Award for demonstrating ecologically beneficial forestry on their land in Polk County. 

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