Category: Class Notes

2012 Alumni Brunch and Awards Ceremony

On Saturday, August 4, we welcomed alumni back to campus at our Alumni Brunch and recognized outstanding alumni for 2012.

Faculty members Robert Froese and Dana Richter chat with Keith ('74) and Laska Creagh

SFRES alumni

Faculty members Jim Pickens and Blair Orr visit with 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award Recipient Jake Hayrynen and his family

Award winners, 2012

Outstanding Young Alumnus – Brandon Bal (’07)

Brandon Bal, 2012 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award RecipientBrandon  graduated in 2007 with a B.S. in Forestry. While at Tech, he was a member of the Forestry Club for three years, serving as chair his senior year.

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)

Jacob Hayrynen, 2012 Outstanding Alumnus Award RecipientJake 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 Creagh, 2012 Honor Academy InducteeKeith 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 Botti, 2012 Honor Academy InducteeAfter beginning his college education in New York, Bill came to Michigan Tech to earn a degree in forest management, graduating in 1964.

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.”

Group photo

Thank you to all who attended to help us recognize these fellow alumni.

Jessica Beachy – 2009

Joins Conservation District as Education Coordinator

Jessica holds a Ph.D. in Forest Science from Michigan Technological University, a M.S. in Entomology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University and a B.S. in Natural Resources from The Ohio State University.

She has broad training in environmental science, aquatic ecology, agriculture, entomology and forest science. She has also gained a great deal of education experience, teaching in both formal and informal settings from toddlers to adults. She has developed curriculum, managed after-school programs, taught environmental education in Bulgaria for two years, coordinated summer leadership camps and taught at the college level at Michigan Technological University and Northwestern Michigan College.While Jessica grew up in the Detroit area, she has always had a love of northern Michigan.  She vacationed every summer in the Grand Traverse region, and was delighted to make Traverse City her permanent home in 2010.  She has worked with the Conservation District’s Invasive Species Network for the past year and is currently Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College.

Jessica is excited to join the Conservation District team in this new capacity as the Education Coordinator, and is looking forward to developing, delivering and providing for the ongoing vitality of environmental education programs and exhibits at the Boardman River Nature Center and throughout the community.

Jessica  can be reached at or 231.941.0960 ext. 24.

Sara Claypoole – 2002

Sara Claypoole visited campus and the School from Pottstown , Pennsylvania during winter carnival. After graduating from Michigan Tech in Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, she went on to the University of Charleston. Sara says, “I’m a pharmacist with CVS Pharmacy and a proud owner of 10 acres of woods. In my spare time, I’ll be taking care of the woodlands.” She is planning for her first harvest in 2013.

Ken Maki – 1963

Ken Maki and Bob Richards
Ken Maki and Bob Richards

Ken Maki was spotted in his hometown of Hayward, Wisconsin recently. Hayward is the home of the American Birkenbeiner. Ken was volunteering with the Chamber of Commerce which was hosting visitor events. Ken spotted a group from Michigan Tech in their Hockey Husky jerseys and welcomed them to Hayward.

Ken is pictured here with fellow Michigan Tech graduate Bob Richards (Biology 77) from Houghton, Michigan.

Ken skied the full American Birkenbeiner (54 kilometers … that’s over 33.5 miles) the next day in 5 hours and 40 minutes. Congratulations, Ken!

Marjorie Ely – 2005, Project Manager, PlaNYC

Marjorie is now leading the day-to-day implementation of the Reforestation Initiative at NRG, including new capital contracting and an expanded NRG Forest Restoration Team. She comes to Natural Resources from Central Forestry, where she was the Street Trees Planting Manager for Manhattan with responsibility for planning, design and budgeting, as well as contract management.

Marjorie received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany and her master’s degree in Forestry from Michigan Technological University. Her past field experiences are highlighted by stints as a ranger in Yosemite National Park and work with the Peace Corps in Nepal.

Left to right: Marge Ely, Casey and Daniella (Zanin) Pereira

Jason Caron – 2002

Eli and Jason Caron show their Michigan Tech pride.

Jason Caron sent in this cute picture of his son Elijah sporting his Michigan Tech gear. Jason says that Eli is growing like a weed ( he is 16 months old here) and he had to get one more picture before Eli out grew the shirt! Jason reports that all is going well in Sault Ste. Marie where he is a forester with the Michigan DNR in their Soo field office.

Joe Kovach – 1987 (MS)

The School of Forest Resources is saddened to learn of the recent passing of our alumnus  Joe Kovach (1958 – 2011)

This obituary and picture was published in the Wausau Daily Herald on November 1, 2011

Joseph A. Kovach

Joseph A. Kovach, 53, Wausau, died Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, at Aspirus Hospice House in Wausau.

He was born Jan. 19, 1958, in Livorno, Italy, to Alexander and Virginia (Beatty) Kovach. Joseph’s father was a military man and, therefore, Joseph was able to travel the world as an army child. He was a graduate of both Penn State University(undergrad) and Michigan Tech where he completed his masters.

Joseph was married and divorced. He spent much time in Ecuador. He first went there as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1981 to 1983. He enjoyed it so much he later returned to work there as a forester for Baltek Corp. for eight years. It was at this time that he met and married the mother of his two children. They later settled in Wausau. Joseph worked in the Forestry Division for the DNR for 18 years as a forest ecologist and silviculturist.

He is survived by his mother, Virginia (Beatty) Kovach, Roy, Utah; son, Jesse Kovach, Wausau; daughter, Alexis Kovach, Madison; sisters, Judith Kovach, Wausau, and Kitty Kovach, Roy, Utah; nephew, David Kovach; and other loving family and friends.

Service with visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, at John J. Buettgen Funeral Home, Schofield.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Society of American Foresters and the Foresters Fund.

John J. Buettgen Funeral Home is assisting the family.