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Farlee, Koenig Honored with 2023 Datena Distinguished Forester Award

Three foresters with exemplary careers, including two Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources alumni, were recognized with the John F. Datena Distinguished Forester Award at the recent Indiana Forestry & Woodland Owners Association annual conference.

Jack Nelson of Lizton, Lenny Farlee of Lafayette and Bob Koenig (posthumously) from Greencastle were recognized for their leadership in forestry and support for Indiana woodland owners.Jack Nelson headshot

The Datena Award, named after former state forester John F. Datena to honor his commitment to Indiana forestry, recognizes professional foresters who have been highly influential in promoting the forestry profession in a manner that rises above their peers. Honorees have spent their careers making significant and sustained contributions to the betterment of forestry and are recognized by their peers to be leaders.

Jack Nelson retired after 34 years working for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and followed that long career with a private consulting forestry business. He has been practicing forestry for 53 years. In his role with the DNR he assisted private landowners and administered the Indiana Timber Buyers Licensing and Indiana Classified Forest programs. He owned a Christmas tree farm for 30 years and is active in many conservation organizations.

After a 20-year career with the IDNR Division of Forestry, Lenny Farlee pivoted to an Extension Forester role at Purdue University, where he provides science-based information on sustainable forest management to woodland owners and natural resource professionals across the Central Hardwoods region. Lenny is especially known for the “Forest Management for the Private Woodland Owner” short course he annually teaches and his series of 120+ videos on tree identification.Lenny Farlee stands in front of a river and tree-lined hillside

“This award has special significance to me as my fellow awardees this year were both pivotal supervisors and mentors in my early career,” Farlee said. “It also represents a very humbling acknowledgement of contributions over a career to the profession and practice of forestry in Indiana, something that has been my joy and pleasure to participate in with so many others. I recognize that significant accomplishments are always done in conjunction with others, and I am grateful for the support and assistance I have received from the Indiana forestry community over these many years.”

Farlee earned his bachelor’s degree in Forestry and Natural Resources from Purdue in 1985 and his master’s degree in 1991. He then worked as a nursery forester with the Indiana Division of Forestry at Vallonia State Tree Nursery from 1988 to 1991 and as a district forester from 1991 to 2006. In January 2007, Farlee joined Purdue FNR as an extension forester for the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center.

Farlee received the Friend of Conservation Award from the Tippecanoe County Soil and Water Conservation District in 2015 and was named as a recipient of the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association’s President’s Award in 2015 and 2017. He also was part of the multidisciplinary group that received the PUCESA Team Award in 2021 for its outreach work on the cicada emergence.Bob Koenig stands in a wooded area

Bob Koenig spent his career with the Indiana DNR Division of Forestry, starting as a district forester but rising to assistant state forester, overseeing all forester training and private lands management programs for 20 years. He had a profound effect not only on the training and careers of many of the foresters in the state, but also on management of the woodlands they provided assistance to. Upon his retirement, he was honored with the Sagamore of the Wabash award (the highest award to a Hoosier) by then governor Frank O’Bannon.

Koenig was a 1955 Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources alumnus.

Summing up the conservation ethic of all of the awardees, IFWOA executive director Liz Jackson stated, “These three honorees have devoted decades of work to the betterment of Indiana forestry, and we can’t thank them enough for their commitment. Our woodlands are better off due to their efforts.”

Honorees are selected by a committee of individuals from the Association of Consulting Foresters, the Indiana Society of American Foresters, the Indiana Hardwood Lumberman’s Association, and IFWOA.

This marks the fifth straight year individuals affiliated with Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources have been honored with the Datena Award

  • 2022: Burney Fischer (BS Forestry 1969, MS 1971, PhD 1974); Joe Schuerman Jr. (BS Forestry 1970)
  • 2021: Janet Eger (BSF Forestry 1978); Bill Hoover (professor emeritus 1974-2015) ; John “Jack” Seifert (extension forester 1978-2005).
  • 2020: Bob Burke (BS 1960, Honorary Doctorate 2010)
  • 2019: Bruce Wakeland (BS 1972); Gary Gretter (BS 1964)

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