DURHAM — UNH Cooperative Extension forester Andrew Fast has received further recognition for his commitment to the protection and productivity of forests in New Hampshire and throughout the country. On March 26, Fast was celebrated by his peers with the Mollie Beattie Young Forester Leadership Award given by the New England Society of American Foresters at their annual meeting in Nashua.
The young forester leadership award goes to a member of the society who is less than 40 years old and has shown leadership in a program or project benefitting the practice of forestry.
Introducing the award winner, UNH Cooperative Extension Field Specialist Steve Roberge said that Fast "inspires, empowers and creates stewards of the resources we all love and manage. Good management sustains, motivates and encourages our forest stewards to leave their piece of the world in better condition than when they started." He lauded Fast for his work with more than 600 landowners, impacting tens of thousands of forested acres throughout the state.
Although Fast's work takes him throughout the state, his primary role is as county forester in Strafford and Belknap Counties. On hearing news of the award, Strafford County Commissioners reacted. Commission Chairman George Maglaras said, "This recognition is of no surprise to me. We've long recognized what an asset Andy is to the citizens of Strafford County. I'm very pleased he is receiving this recognition from the New England Society of American Foresters."
Among those nominating Fast for this year's Young Forester award was Wendy Weisiger of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, who praised Fast's instructional and professional development efforts in ecology, forestry, wildlife and forest-based recreation. Members of the forestry industry threw their support behind Fast's nomination as well. John O'Brien of O'Brien Forestry Services commended Fast for "working diligently to articulate the concerns and issues we face in our program. He is an excellent communicator and has promoted our program through newsletter articles and updates to tree farmers and inspectors." He called Fast "competent, open, honest...integrity at its best."
The Beattie award is the latest in a series of tributes to Fast. Last March, he received the 2013 national Leadership Award from the American Tree Farm System. At that ceremony, held in Philadelphia, Fast was said to "exemplify what it means to be a leader in the Tree Farm program." He was cited for his work as an advocate for certified tree farmers and landowners. Under his leadership with the New Hampshire Tree Farm Program, Fast improved methods for identifying, evaluating and inspecting prospective tree farms in the state.