On Saturday, August 4, we welcomed alumni back to campus at our Alumni Brunch and recognized outstanding alumni for 2012.
Outstanding Young Alumnus – Brandon Bal (’07)
After graduation, Brandon began his career as a Forester for Forest Resource Services in Gaylord, Michigan. Brandon carried out American Tree Farm System Inspections, wrote forest management plans, and performed forest inventories in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Returning to the Upper Peninsula in 2008, Brandon started with American Forest Management as a Technical (GIS) Forester. He moved into a leadership position after only two years, becoming an area manager. While working full time, he also earned a post baccalaureate certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) from Penn State University (2011).
Brandon continues his forestry education and development of leadership skills by continuing to be a member in the Society of American Foresters. He also voluntarily serves as the Western UP District Chair of the American Tree Farm System.
Outstanding Alumnus – Jacob Hayrynen (’81)
Jake Hayrynen graduated in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Forestry. Throughout his career of more than 30 years, he has been successful in developing collaborative and mutually beneficial business relationships with customers, suppliers, and key constituents, drawing on his wide range of experience in forestry, operations management, land certification, management, and leadership to drive strategic and long term growth initiatives.
Jake is currently the Forest Products Manager at J.M. Longyear, LLC, (employed 1983-present), which manages more than 164,000 acres of company-owned forestlands in Michigan and Ontario, Canada. Beginning in 2001, he led efforts to acquire, manage, and operate 90,000 acres of forest lands in Ontario, Canada, and has been instrumental in growing the company owned land portfolio in the United States and Canada from 48,000 acres to 164,000 acres. He also led the development and significant growth of the company’s stumpage and log procurement program, along with Longyear’s marketing and sales program. He is also involved with the Company’s strategic growth in various downstream forest products business opportunities, the most recent being J.M. Longyear’s acquisition of ½ interest in the Northern Hardwoods sawmill in South Range, Michigan.
Jake is a member of the SFRES Advisory Board and was an instrumental member of the School’s dean search committee. In 2009 he also served on the Board of Advisors for SITTM Technologies Inc., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. His professional memberships include the Society of American Foresters and the Michigan Forest Products Council (MFPC). Jake has been a member of the MFPC’s Forest Policy committee since its inception. He is also a member of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Lake States Lumber Association.
Honor Academy Inductee – Keith Creagh (’74)
Keith graduated from Michigan Tech in 1974 with a Bachelor’s degree in Forestry. As the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, he brings a vast amount of experience and love of the outdoors to the position, as well as a robust background in policy development, strategic planning and relationship building.
Prior to his appointment July 9, 2012, by Governor Rick Snyder, Keith had been serving as director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) since Jan. 1, 2011.
Complementing his public service, he worked as director of Industry Affairs for the Neogen Corporation, a company that develops and provides food and animal safety solutions to the agri-food industry. In that capacity he established and maintained relationships with the scientific community and regulatory agencies at the state and federal level, international product registrations, and manufacturing operations at Neogen’s Wisconsin manufacturing plant.
Keith’s service with state government began in 1974 and has included a wide range of positions with MDARD during his tenure, including land use deputy director with the Departments of Natural Resources and MDARD, where he coordinated a multi-agency implementation plan in response to the recommendations from the Governor-appointed Michigan Land Use Leadership Council. He has provided leadership for the Farm Bill and conservation programs, which brought together conservation organizations, state and federal agencies, and local conservation districts to establish conservation practices in the state. Working through the ranks, Keith’s assignments provided him experience with invasive and exotic species, conservation easements and environmental stewardship. His background also includes working closely with stakeholder groups, federal agencies, the state legislature and U.S. Congress.
Honor Academy Inductee – Bill Botti (’64)
Bill had a 26-year career with the Michigan DNR, retiring after directing the state forest timber management program.
His second career was as president of Clinton Trail Tree Farm, a forestry consulting and Christmas tree business. “We started the Christmas trees as an investment for the kids’ college expenses. Our kids and grandchildren help; that makes the fall season fun,” said Bill.
Bill currently serves as chair of the Michigan DNR Forest Management Advisory Committee. He is also the executive director of the Michigan Forest Association (MFA), where he has been a member since 1971 and a board member for over 25 years. Other positions he has held with the MFA include president, publications chair, and columnist, artist and author for Michigan Forests magazine.
Bill has been a member of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) since 1978 and has authored several publications on forest history. His list of accomplishments also includes:
- Forestry conservationist of the year 2009 (Michigan United Cons. Clubs)
- Retired Forester of the Year 2002 (Michigan SAF)
- Friend of the Living Forest 1995 (Michigan Forest Resource Alliance)
- Distinguished Service Award 1992 (Michigan Forest Association)
Bill’s community service includes the Eaton Rapids Medical Center and the Chamber of Commerce. He participates in the Lions Club, United Methodist Church and Boy Scouts. Bill married Alice in 1963. They “honeymooned” in Hancock. They have three children and seven grandchildren, but no luck persuading any to go to Tech!
“Michigan Tech was just what I was looking for,” Bill explains. “The practical emphasis and northern location were perfect. We were encouraged to address our (forestry) instructors by their first names. Many lasting friendships and memories were forged at Tech.”
Thank you to all who attended to help us recognize these fellow alumni.