Two faculty members in Virginia Tech's College of Natural Resources – David Wm. Smith of Blacksburg, Va., and Shepard Zedaker of Walton, Va. – were recently honored by the Society of American Foresters (SAF) at its annual convention in Orlando.

David Wm. Smith, professor emeritus of forestry, received the society's Gifford Pinchot Medal, which recognizes outstanding contributions by a forestry professional who has demonstrated excellence in the administration, practice, and professional development of North American forestry. This honor, which is awarded biennially, is one of six national awards presented by the society this year. Smith, who was named an SAF Fellow in 1998 and served as the organization's president in 2002, has received a number of national SAF honors.

During his academic career, Smith left an enduring mark on the forestry profession. Consistently demonstrating that "the student comes first," he taught over 5,500 undergraduate students, served as major professor for 36 graduate students, and served as a committee member for 93 others. In his 37 years with the college, Smith served on numerous department, college, and university student-related committees, and has held a variety of positions, including the Honorable and Mrs. Shelton H. Short Jr. Professor of Forestry, associate dean for academic programs, and acting dean.

Shepard Zedaker, professor of forestry, has been elected as a Society of American Foresters Fellow. The society recognizes less than 5 percent of its members with this honor, which is given to those who have demonstrated excellence in volunteer involvement, consistent leadership, and advancement in forestry by education, public policy, research, or technology transfer. "This is an exceptional recognition bestowed upon Shepard Zedaker by his peers for outstanding service to the society and to the profession. It is an honor that few receive and one that he deserves entirely," remarked SAF President Bernard Hubbard.

Zedaker, one of the nation's experts on forest fires, often travels with the U.S. Forest Service or the Virginia Department of Forestry when a disaster occurs, and has headed crews at several large western fires. His research interests include wildland fire ecology and protection, and he is committed to addressing topics involving the effects of fire on the environment, weather and fire behavior, fire danger waiting system, fire suppression basics, and prescribed fires.

Smith, who became professor emeritus in 2000, received his bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees from Iowa State University. Zedaker, who received his bachelor's from Humboldt State University, his master's from Purdue University, and his doctorate from Oregon State University, has been a faculty member at Virginia Tech since 1981.

The Society of American Foresters is the leading scientific organization representing the forestry profession in the United States. Founded in 1900 by Gifford Pinchot, the society is now the world’s largest professional society for foresters.

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