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Hosner receives forestry recognition

By Lynn Davis

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 13 - November 16, 1995

John F. Hosner, professor emeritus and the advocate who shepherded Virginia Tech's School of Forestry into national prominence until it finally became the College of Forestry and Wildlife Resources, has received the highest award given by the Society of American Foresters (SAF), the forestry profession's large organization.

Hosner was given the Gifford Pinchot Medal at the annual meeting of the society in Portland, Maine, last week. The award, given only every other year in memory of one of SAF's early pioneers, recognizes outstanding contributions in North American forestry.

Hosner was honored for being a major contributor to the nation's forestry and for devoting his 47-year-career to advancing the profession through service to various forestry organizations. "His most noteworthy achievement," said an SAF official, "was his visionary leadership program at Virginia Tech."

Upon receiving the award, Hosner said, "I had a lot of help and especially appreciate the contributions made by the faculty and staff at Virginia Tech. One of my colleagues elsewhere in the nation tells folks that Tech's program looked good because I never hesitated to hire people smarter than myself."

While at Tech, Hosner established a nationally renowned forestry program with an outstanding faculty. Under his leadership, all four major specialty areas-forestry, wildlife, wood science, and fisheries-have been ranked by peers as being in the top programs in the country, with the latest ranking placing both fisheries and wood-science programs first among their peer groups.

Virginia Tech has the only forestry program in the nation with faculty members who have won all four major awards presented by SAF.

During Hosner's administration the program grew from an unaccredited department of 72 students to a college with 750 students. Hosner directed this remarkable growth through the integration of all forestry-related natural-resource fields into one unified curriculum. His students are now leaders in federal, state, and private forestry professions.

In addition to his administrative leadership in education, Hosner has served as president of the Forest Farmers Association (FFA). Under his direction, FFA established a public-affairs advocacy group that has grown into an effective lobbying arm for forestry interests in Congress. He presently serves on numerous boards and committees, including the Virginia Forestry Association, the Virginia Forestry Education Foundation, the Southern Appalachian Man, and the Biosphere Foundation, and, more recently, the Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Forestry.

Hosner also has a long history of service to the Society of American Foresters, including serving as the chair of the committee that established the Southern Journal of Applied Forestry in the 1970s. He also is a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has received numerous other professional and academic awards and recognitions.

Hosner received his B.S. from Michigan State in 1948, his M.S. from Duke in 1950, and his Ph.D. from the State University of New York in 1957. He was elected an SAF Fellow in 1978, and served as an SAF Council member from 1990-93.