Laboratory Specialist John Peterson has received the university’s 2016 President’s Award for Excellence. The award, which carries a $2,000 cash prize, is presented annually to up to five Virginia Tech staff members who have made extraordinary contributions by consistent excellence in the performance of their job or a single incident, contribution, or heroic act.

Peterson has been with the Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation for 22 years, providing extensive work for administrators, faculty, and graduate students. He has helped develop Virginia Tech’s tree biology web, computer, and smartphone based educational materials since 1997. More recently, he was a part of the team that created vTree, the most-downloaded mobile application for tree identification. He has also been the primary programmer of Woody Plants in North America, a tree identification multimedia tutorial with 960 species and over 25,000 color photographs.

He is the first to volunteer to accompany graduate students on their fieldwork, which often takes place in hostile and uninviting environments, such as a snake-infested Alabama swamp or South Carolina pinelands overrun with ticks and chiggers.

Outside of his official duties, Peterson is known for his outreach, service, and teaching for the department. He often hosts the Virginia Master Naturalists at his farm for a tree walk and picnic dinner. His outreach work includes reaching middle and high school students with forestry knowledge.

Read the full press release.