Category: 75 Years of Memories 1936-2011

Stories and memories from our alumni, faculty and staff about their times and experiences while at Michigan Tech’s School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science.

“Best Forestry School in the Country”

A message to Dean Gale.
I thought your “Message from the Dean” in the current issue of the SFRES magazine was right on the money.

Speaking as an educator, you posed the question ”Are we providing students with the knowledge base they’ll need to address new issues that go beyond what they learned in their formal education?” My own career experience illustrates the importance of being able to do just that, and your recognition of the importance of this key issue speaks well for your program.

I had a 34 year career with the Bureau of Land Management primarily in western Oregon. Michigan Tech prepared me well for my early experiences, once I got used to the differences in scale. I still remember putting in a cluster of inventory plots in a 800-year old stand of Douglas-fir, and cruising a stand of timber on a beautiful riverside terrace that averaged 220,000 board feet per acre. But as my career evolved, I quickly got involved in issues that did indeed go far beyond my formal education.

For most of the latter half of my career, I was the BLM’s Chief of Forestry Planning with responsibilities covering 3,000,000 acres of forest land in Oregon and Washington. These responsibilities included forest inventory, the determination of the sustainable allowable harvest level and oversight of the program to bring that level of timber production to market, and the integration of the forestry program within the land-use planning process.

Early on, the process was relatively simple, and I was guided by the principles and philosophies I learned under Gene Hesterberg, Vern Johnson, and Eric Bourdo in old Hubbell School. Very quickly, however, it became necessary to “go beyond” as you suggest.

One of the first things I had to deal with in this context was the integration of management considerations related to anadromous fisheries. The spawning and rearing streams that salmon and steelhead depended upon were intimately associated with some of our finest timber producing lands. Some of the interactions between fish and timber production were quite subtle, in that relatively minute changes in water temperatures or quality, or the timing or magnitude of stream flows, could have drastic effects on fish production.

Furthermore, it quickly became apparent that the Douglas-fir old-growth seral stage itself was quickly becoming an endangered and scarce resource that needed special handling and management. Hundreds of wildlife species were uniquely dependent upon it, not to mention its importance in more esoteric areas like carbon sequestration and as refugia for mychorrizal fungi.

The point I’m trying to make is that my career quickly moved beyond the specifics I learned in my formal education, but I was able to traverse uncharted waters because of the sound knowledge base and the integrative attitude and adaptive capabilities I acquired at Michigan Tech.

That’s why it is so heartening to read your message. You’ve got the best forestry school in the country on the right trail, Peg. Keep on chuggin’.

Ron Sadler

Why I came to Tech: John DePuydt – 1971

During spring break of my senior year (1967) of high school, my Dad, my cousin Chuck (his company sold hockey equipment to John MacInnes and Michigan Tech hockey), and I drove up to Tech from the Detroit area for a visit. I had been accepted at Tech already and I wanted to see what I was getting into.  I chose Tech because I wanted to play hockey (I played on the Freshmen team) and to go into Forestry, and to get into some of the great hunting that was talked about up here.

While we were visiting, we got a chance to go to the Forestry building (Hubbell School) and meet Dr. Hesterberg.  Upon meeting Dr. Hesterberg (he insisted we call him Gene) and seeing a mounted Ruffed Grouse on his desk I knew I was in the correct place!  My classmates and I were the first freshman class in the new building. We were also the first class to have Summer Camp on campus.

After I graduated I never left the area and have been here for 44 years!  Incidentally, my parents moved the entire family up here just before I graduated.  My brother, Drew, was at Tech with me and he graduated in 1973, and the DePuydt name has been a stable name in the Copper Country for many years and many more years to come!

Why I came to Tech: Tom Cieslinski – 1963

I had never heard of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology until receiving the offer of a $100 scholarship in the spring of 1959 to attend the Soo Branch. That was a good sum of money at the time. Three of my classmates had received the same offer and accepted so I decided to join them, and quickly picked Forestry as my major.

Coming from a poor family with little money, I hoarded the few dollars earned from paper route and grocery store jobs and headed north with my father and a promise from a very benevolent aunt to pay for tuition and other expenses. My first quarter was extremely difficult with 5 Cs and a D. A very understanding and compassionate Algebra professor straighted me out in the second quarter (stop playing card games!). From then on my grades improved every year culminating with graduation with honors in 1963.

I thoroughly enjoyed both the Soo and Houghton campuses, summer camp at the Ford Forestry Center, the campus food (generally better than what I got at home), and finally the 9 hole golf course the last quarter of my senior year (hitch-hiked as I had no car). I participated in seven intramural sports as well as winter statue construction.

The course work was very hard for me, not being the brightest bulb, but I made it. I am extremely grateful to the college, to the Forestry staff at both campuses, and especially to my aunt who came through on her promise. My aunt was a hoarder and saved all the letters I mailed her from both campuses, the summer camp, and my Forest Service internship in the Rio Grande National Forest the summer of 1962.

Again, thank you everyone.

—Tom Cieslinski

Alberta: A Great Community

Alberta – a great community of faculty, staff and students.

It was my home and office for 26 years. I remember a few students rebelled against the Athletic Deprtment requiring summer camp to have physcial exercise for PE credit.  An unnamed students whose initials were Bill Botti led a short series of trumpet “charges” at 7:00 a.m. for a few days wherein the students sang “Mickey Mouse” as they raised the Mickey Mouse flag up the flag pole. The “requirement” was soon dropped and the students maintained their PE credit.

Another fun incident was when a student, rumored to be Mike Henricksen, allegedly broke into the dining hall and decided to ride the dumbwaiter down to the kitchen cooler to feed his crew, after getting in late for dinner one night. They even cleaned up after themselves!

We all have many fond memories of the good times at Alberta.

Roger Rogge – former faculty member