A black and white photo from 1989 of Easton Loving standing front of a backdrop of tall skinny pine trees.
Easton Loving as a Hokie undergraduate in 1989.

Easton Loving reflects on his memories as a forestry major at Virginia Tech, a successful career in the wood procurement industry, and the importance of mentorship and collaboration.

College of Natural Resources and Environment: What have you been doing since you graduated?

Easton Loving: I left Virginia Tech in September 1991 and went to work in procurement with Westvaco in Covington, Virginia. Over the next ten years, I worked in various roles in procurement, first in southside Virginia and, eventually, in the Roanoke area. My wife Pam and I were married in August 1997. In 2000, we moved back to the family farm in Fluvanna County and built our dream home. We have been blessed with 25 years of marriage and three children: Aynsley, Samuel, and Jacob. I’ve continued to work in wood procurement throughout my career and have worked for Westvaco-MeadWestvaco-WestRock for almost 32 years. I’ve been blessed beyond measure, personally and professionally, and many of my blessings are directly attributable to my time at Virginia Tech.

CNRE: What is your fondest memory?

Loving: When we would get that first good snowfall of the year. It set in motion the giant snowball battles across campus. Before I went to Virginia Tech, my dad, a ’57 graduate, told me all about the great snowball battles of his day in the upper quad. My dad’s snowball battles were often fought between regiments/units within the Corps of Cadets. Our battles often featured the civilians v. the Corps. We often had superior numbers on the civilian side, but the cadets were better prepared and organized. It was wonderful to see football coach Brent Pry embrace this tradition last winter by participating in the annual snowball fight.

CNRE: What is the most amazing thing that you did or learned?

Loving: The importance of learning to work and live with others. Working on labs, projects, and papers with different people and personalities taught me the importance of the interpersonal skills that we draw and rely on throughout our lives. Not everyone works and thinks like we do, and it’s critically important to connect with diverse personalities for everyone’s success. I had a range of roommates during my time in Blacksburg, and each relationship was unique. I was a co-op student, so I rotated in and out of school with work sessions, requiring more roommate changes than the norm. As a graduate student, I had two great friends that I shared an apartment with (Austin Short and Damon Houghton), and we made the most of our Blacksburg time together.

CNRE: What professors inspired you?

Loving: I had many wonderful professors and had the great fortune of getting to know some wonderful people inside and outside of the classroom, including professors Burkhart, Adams, Scrivani, Shaffer, Walbridge, Stuart, Aust, Zedaker, Seiler, Sullivan, Haney, Oderwald, Klemperer, and Feret. Most are no longer around Cheatham Hall, but they have left an indelible mark on many Hokie foresters, including this one. But one professor that had and continues to have the greatest impact on me is David William Smith. I got to know Dave first in graduate school, and then got to know him and his lovely wife Linda even better over the past twenty years. He has been a mentor to me in more ways than I can count or share. Dave is a remarkable person who has shaped so many lives. His wisdom and guidance have made me a better forester, and, more importantly, a better husband and father.

CNRE: If you could go back in time, what’s the one thing you would tell your undergraduate self?

Loving: You are in Blacksburg for an education, and you will get a good one from Virginia Tech. Take advantage of every opportunity you can – both inside and outside of the classroom – and find that balance between academics and socializing. After a “fun” freshman year, I settled in as a serious undergraduate and pushed myself academically. I have no regrets in hindsight, but I often missed opportunities as an upperclassman to balance my academics with the other important pieces of student life. Life will challenge you to find balance, particularly in marriage and as a parent, so the sooner you can learn to balance life’s demands, the better. Virginia Tech will provide you with the opportunities to make choices along the way.