A Message from Our Executive Director
Eric Vines


Forest ecosystems are remarkably complex.  The multitudinous interactions of soils, water, plants, animals, insects, fish, birds, amphibians, fungi and microorganisms with wind, fire, drought, ice storms, the passage of time and, not least, the impact of people...all weave complex melodies.  Like trying to simultaneously watch a dozen operas, each with its dramatic themes of life and death playing out in real time, these interactions present to us a composition that feels overwhelming.


Of course it's tempting to try and simplify, to hope that if we could just stop cutting down trees (or just cut fewer trees, or just cut different trees) then our forests could be saved.  But in the context of complex systems that include a worldwide economy, reductionist thinking gives us results opposite of what we intend.  What at first appears to be a simple solution only generates a cascade of competing problems affecting biodiversity, climate and social justice.


Let's explore for a moment the idea that we should decrease tree harvests in a specific region.  If demand for wood is constant, reduced cutting in one locale inevitably calls for cutting more heavily somewhere else, often in places where environmental protections are less robust.  Alternatively, if we focus our efforts on reducing the use of lumber products overall as a way to drive down demand for trees, then on a planet with an increasing population (and thus increasing demand for housing) we must rely more heavily on other building materials such as concrete, steel, and plastic, none of which are particularly kind to our planet, exacerbating global warming.  In addition, a decreased demand for wood would diminish the motive of landowners to maintain their forestlands as forests.  Economic pressure would increase their interest in converting their woodlands to something else more productive, like cattle pastures or palm oil plantations. Approaches that call for higher harvest rates or more intensive rotations also have unintended consequences that ripple throughout the global economic system. 


Humans now control the destiny of forests on this planet, determining whether there are more or fewer.  So we need to be smarter about how we use wood and how we manage our forests, replanting extensively, thinning effectively and facilitating tree diversity and forest resilience.  We need to enhance the sequestering of carbon, putting wood to use in structures that can last hundreds of years.  We need to shift our economic thinking about the role of forests to a macro-scale.  Global trade affects the price we put on any given tree, but it doesn't always reflect its broader value.  Our challenge today is to begin accurately valuing forests for their full range of benefits and to use markets to ensure that these values get returned to those people tasked with stewarding these lands.


Faced with an uncertain future, we can no longer afford to regard forest management as anything less than profoundly important and highly complex, wrestling with the multilayered issues for the betterment of our planet today as well as 100 years from today.  We need to turn our ecological and economic dilemmas into a respectful celebration of our capacity to hear the calls of competing interests and make rational choices for broad social benefit.  We need to give future generations something to sing about.  It's hard work. It's complex work. It's our work. Thank you for being part of it. 



Eric Vines

Executive Director



Leadership Hall Spotlight


James "Jim" Rombach and Robert "Bob" Tokarczyk, each in their own way, were both tasked with trying to put the pieces back together after the lid blew off of Mount St. Helens. It was Sunday morning, May 18th, 1980, when the iconic peak, volcanically inactive since the mid-1800s, erupted in the most cataclysmic event of this type in the history of the United States.  Homes, roads, and bridges were destroyed, 57 lives were lost, and nearly 150,000 acres of public and private land were devastated.  The mountain itself lost 1,314 feet of elevation while more than 4 billion board feet of timber were damaged or destroyed. 

James L. Rombach (left) & Robert D. Tokarczyk (right)

At the time, Weyerhaeuser Company was the largest private sector landowner in the area with 68,000 acres.  Jim Rombach, who would devote four decades of service to this forest products company, was working as its Southwest Washington Regional Forest Engineer.  His prior experience in the Army Corps of Engineers leading land clearing teams would serve him well in the recovery, salvage, and replanting challenges that they now faced.  Eventually the company reforested more than 45,000 acres with over 18 million seedlings.  Jim also played a key role in advocating for a long-term vision for the area, leading to the establishment of the Mount St. Helens National Monument. His professional involvement continues with Forestry Education in Oregon high schools, Tree Farm Program/Oregon Tree Farmer of the Year, Society of American Foresters, forestry policy input at local, State and Federal levels, especially the roads, fire and impacts on local communities and High School recognition of Civic and Student Achievement.


Meanwhile, Bob Tokarczyk, whose  distinguished career with the United States Forest Service would span 34 years, was serving as Forest Supervisor of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  When nearby Mount St. Helens started to shake prior to its eruption, Bob coordinated efforts to enforce an exclusionary "red zone" around the perimeter of the volcano.  As a result, along with a little luck, no Forest Service personnel were hurt or killed in the blast.  Subsequently, he played a major role in coordinating the assessment and cleanup efforts, briefing President Carter and the governors of Washington and Idaho as together they surveyed the extensive damage.  Along with Jim Rombach, Bob's input helped to guide Congress in combining the volcano itself and the surrounding public forestlands into the Mount St. Helens National Monument under the continuing stewardship of the US Forest Service.

To read the full biographies, follow the links below. 

50th Anniversary Gala
The magical celebration "Eat Dessert First," the World Forestry Center's 50th Anniversary Gala, begins with a sumptuous dessert! Alissa Frice, owner of Frice Pastry, will be showcasing her composed creations as guests are seated to enjoy an evening that will surely delight the senses.

Senior Fellow Receives Prestigious Rudy Award
Senior Fellow Rick Zenn being honored by Senior Vice President of Project Learning Tree, Kathy McGlauflin


Project Learning Tree? (PLT) honored Rick Zenn, Senior Fellow for the World Forestry Center (WFC), with its prestigious 'Rudy Award' for his lifelong achievement in environmental education (EE) and his commitment to the PLT program. The award was presented to Zenn on June 8, 2015 at the PLT International Coordinators' Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.


Zenn is an internationally recognized environmental educator with more than 40 years of professional experience as a naturalist, teacher, program manager, non-profit leader, and consultant. Zenn was WFC's education director for nearly 20 years and in his current role as Senior Fellow he leads national and international education and outreach initiatives for WFC, focusing on partnerships, training, and institutional development.


The Rudy Award, named after Rudolf Schafer who founded PLT in 1976, is PLT's highest recognition. Zenn is the fourth person ever to have received this award.

"Rick Zenn has devoted countless hours to helping support and grow the Project Learning Tree program in a number of ways, both nationally and internationally," said Kathy McGlauflin, Senior Vice President of Education at the American Forest Foundation and National Program Director for PLT. "Rick served on PLT's Education Operating Committee for 20 years, helped develop PLT's forest education materials for high school teachers, and every year hosts PLT's Outstanding Educators at the World Forestry Center. Thousands of educators and millions of students have benefited from Rick's expertise, leadership, and dedicated service to PLT and the field of environmental education over many years."


In 2008, Zenn helped lead the initiative to publish and distribute PLT's Global Connections: Forests of the World curriculum guide for Advanced Placement (AP) and other high school science and social studies courses. In 2011, the U.S. National Report on Sustainable Forests cited the 150-page activity guide as an indicator of national progress toward educating citizens about sustainable forestry by "leading students to investigate the environmental, social, and economic aspects of human interaction with and dependence on forests."


Zenn currently directs WFC's International Educators Institute (IEI), an intensive, week-long leadership development program for accomplished educators, scientists, communications professionals, and natural resource managers who are committed to advancing education about the world's forests. Zenn founded the program in 1996 and has worked with over 250 program participants from all over the U.S. and 45 countries worldwide.


Zenn has advised many education and conservation organizations throughout his tenure. In addition to serving on PLT's Education Operating Committee for over 20 years, he served three terms as the Chair of the Oregon Department of Forestry - Urban and Community Forestry Council and was President of Oregon Community Trees, a non-profit organization promoting tree planting and tree care in more than fifty cities and rural communities in the state. He was a member of the Intertwine Conservation Education Task Force Alliance for regional parks and green spaces in Portland, OR. He was also a contributor to the Environmental Literacy Plan for the Oregon Department of Education and the Forest Literacy Project for the Oregon Forest Resources Institute.


About Project Learning Tree

Project Learning Tree? (PLT) uses trees and forests as windows on the world to increase students' understanding of the environment.  PLT provides educators with supplementary curriculum materials, professional development, and other resources to integrate environmental education into lesson plans for all grades and subject areas, and to use the outdoors to engage students in learning about the world around them. Developed in 1976, PLT's 50-state network includes more than 650,000 trained educators using PLT materials and 4,000 PLT Green Schools! PLT is a program of the American Forest Foundation. For more information, visit www.plt.org.

Upcoming Conference

World Forest Institute News

New WFI Fellows and Interns!

Robert Mijol: Sabah, Malaysia
2015 WFI Fellow

Qingxin Liu: Beijing, China

2015 WFI Fellow


Donna Ye

2015 Summer Intern


Anna Maria Jardini

2015 Summer Intern


Our 2015 cadre is growing! We are pleased to welcome two more Fellows into our program. Mr. Robert Mijol from Sabah, Malaysia joined us in May. Robert works for the Sabah Forestry Department in the Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve.  He works in wildlife conservation and is here at WFI to learn more about Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) policies and models. He hopes to help the Malaysian government implement a type of PES system on their forest reserves back home. Robert will be here through November.


Also joining us is Dr. Qingxin Liu from Beijing, China. Qingxin is a research scientist in the Division of Science and Technology Management at the Chinese Academy of Forestry. He arrived mid-June and will be at WFI for a 6-month program studying public forest management in the U.S. He is interested in the development of management practices and would like to see how some of the policies and practices compare to China. 

WFI is also happy to announce that we have two new interns this summer. Ms. Jiadong "Donna" Ye joined us in June and is an international student from China studying at the University of British Columbia. Donna is down from Canada for a part of her summer to help WFI staff and fellows prepare for our upcoming annual teachers training program, the International Educators Institute. We are gearing up for a very exciting seven-day adventure with a group of 20 international educators and researchers from around the world, and with Donna's help, we'll be ready!


Also joining us this summer is Anna Maria Jardini. Anna Maria is a local high school student who will be working with WFI staff on administrative and database projects. We are very excited and thankful to have both of them with us this summer!


WFI Fellows Out in the World

Above, From Left: Peter Matzka (OSU Extension Forestry Educator), Stuty Maskey (Nepal), Qingxin Liu (China), Miguel Sanchez (Bolivia), Robert Mijol (Malaysia), Shadia Duery (WFI Program  Manager), and Sarita Lama (Nepal).  

Right: WFI Fellows and staff joined Harry Merlo at his home in Portland for an evening of conversation and wine to honor the global connections that the WFI Fellowship programs bring to the field of forestry.

The WFI International Fellowship Program now has six research Fellows studying in Portland. Keep up with what they are doing by visiting the WFI Reflections Blog. Here you can read about people and places that WFI Fellows visit and see for yourself some of the amazing things they are seeing, such as their recent trip to Hopkins Demonstration Forest where they learned about educating the public about forestry.



A Gracious Thank You to All 2015 Donors
It is with their support that we are able to carry on with our mission at the World Forestry Center. 

Please visit  this page to view all of our 2015 donors.

If you would like to be a supporter, please feel free to make a donation here.

Art Gallery Now Open

The  World Forestry Center  and  The Geezer Gallery  are jointly presenting a third installment in a four-part exhibition: Forestial, Salvage, Inhabit, & Gather.

The works presented are created by The Geezer Gallery's acclaimed artists. The Geezer Gallery artists share with us their wisdom and their creative expression, the result of experience accumulated through years well-lived. A wise person once said "we can't learn everything for ourselves in one lifetime, but we can learn from each other."

These shows remind us of our link to the forests of the world. Forestial means "see forest." This first installment focused on flora evoking a woodland experience. The second part of our series, Salvage, displayed works born from reclaimed and reused materials. These shows remind us of the link to the forests of the world. This third show, Inhabit, implies "occupy, dwell, and reside;" works highlighting the relationship between people and forests. Gather reflects our focus on linking the globe and bringing together the forest community. The artwork in the last installation features pieces that reflect grouping and coming together. 

We hope you will join us to explore the connections between people and forests through this fascinating exhibit.

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Michelle Coumarbatch 
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503-228-1367 x100

Wendy Mitchell

Amber Morrison

Zakary Johnson
Membership & Database Specialist
Eric Vines

Rick Zenn
Senior Fellow

Reade Weber
Special Projects Manager

Jennifer Kent

Angie Garcia

Chuck Wiley
Facilities & Maintenance Manager 
Darlene Boles, C.P.A.

Sara Wu

Chandalin Bennett
Sen. Programs Manager

Shadia Duery
Programs Manager
Mark Reed

Rob Pierce
Education Director

Louise George
Visitor Services Manager

Liam Hassett
Tree Farm Manager