As Greg Meade (’94 B.S. and ’96 M.S. in forestry), manager of the Conservation Forestry Program for The Nature Conservancy in Abingdon, Va., has garnered accolades and established an outstanding career and reputation in forestry, he has maintained close ties to his alma mater. He praises his core education at Virginia Tech as well-rounded and practical, and says he received exceptional mentoring as well as valuable contacts in the forestry community from his advisor, Bob Shaffer. “I have received tremendous support since graduation,” Meade said. “As I had questions, I would call faculty or tap into the forestry Extension staff and have always received strong support.”

In light of his leadership, professionalism, and commitment to his profession, Meade received the 2009 Society of American Foresters (SAF) National Young Forester Leadership Award, of which he is very proud. “It was humbling to receive the award in front of several hundred peers. I was glad to contribute to Virginia Tech’s streak of winning this award,” he remarked, noting that a number of recent winners have ties to the university, either as graduates or faculty. Meade has been an active SAF member since 1996, including chairing the Skyline Chapter of the Virginia SAF, and received the SAF Virginia Young Forester Leadership Award in 2008.

As assistant regional forester with the Virginia department of Forestry from 2001 to 2007, Meade’s duties included mentoring young county foresters and playing a leadership role in many of the department’s training courses. “I was expected to do a certain amount of mentoring and training,” he recalled. “In my case, I had many new foresters start their careers under my watch.”

Meade’s career was a natural progression from his youthful forays into local forests. “Like many foresters, I grew up in a rural area, spending almost all my free time in the local forests,” he observed. natural resources courses in high school sparked his interest in forestry education, and his path proceeded from there.

“Over time my career has moved closer to conservation, leading up to my current position at The nature Conservancy,” Meade added. “I came to recognize that conservation and forest products production are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in many cases the combination of conservation along with production can lead to greater gains in both areas. This to me is very exciting. It is kind of like having your cake and eating it too!”