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Mississippi's top tree man

Wiseman earns forestry’s highest honor

 

Mike Wiseman is characterized by friends, family and colleagues as quiet, modest and low-profile. However, he had his “cover” blown recently when he earned the most prestigious award given by the Mississippi Forestry Association (MFA) — Meritorious Service to Forestry.
“I was just so shocked when they called my name,” said Wiseman.
“Mike is a most deserving winner of this, our highest award,” said MFA interim director Eleana Pope, who said approximately 525 people were in attendance at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg to see Wiseman accept his award. “He is quiet and doesn’t like to talk about himself. But this award speaks for him. His contribution to the state’s forestry community is undeniable.”
Wiseman retired this year after a nearly 35-year career with Georgia-Pacific. But his peers say his impact on the industry will be felt for years to come, particularly due to his work in forestry programs for children.
“Mike has contributed tremendously to forestry over many years,” said retired Mississippi State University Extension Service forester Tim Traugott, a past Meritorious Service to Forestry winner. “He is not a high-profile individual, but one that gets the job done. Mike Wiseman is the perfect example of why MFA and forestry in Mississippi has been so successful over the years.”
The Meritorious Service to Forestry award is for lifetime achievement, and winners are selected by previous winners. This makes the honor that much more special to Wiseman.
“It ranks right up there at the top,” said Wiseman. “It means even more to me considering who the judges were.”
Now a 26-year resident of Winona, Wiseman grew up in New Albany, the son of David and Ethelyne Wiseman. His late father was an outdoorsman, and Wiseman, an Eagle Scout, has fond memories of hunting and fishing with his father.
Forestry also ran in his family — his uncle was a forester. So upon graduating from W.P. Daniel High School in New Albany, Wiseman left home for Mississippi State University, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in forestry.
Upon graduating from Mississippi State, Wiseman spent three years as a forester in Attala County with the Mississippi Forestry Commission. But his horizons would soon grow well past the Central Mississippi county.
Wiseman would leave the Commission and hire on with St. Regis Corporation as a procurement agent, buying timber for the paper company. He started his way up the ladder, a rise that was well underway when Georgia-Pacific Corporation bought St. Regis eight years into his St. Regis career.
He began his stint with Georgia-Pacific at the company’s Grenada Oriented Strand Board plant, and was quickly promoted to procurement manager. He was eventually promoted to area manager, responsible for operations in Louisville, Grenada and Fayette, Ala.
When he retired, Wiseman had racked up 34 years of service with St. Regis and Georgia-Pacific.
However, Wiseman’s influence has been felt across the state, region and nation. He has served for many years of the MFA’s board of directors and chaired numerous committees. He has served on the Montgomery County Forestry Association as president, and is a long-time active member of the Mississippi chapter of the Society of American Foresters and is a member of the Mississippi Forestry Foundation board of trustees.
But Wiseman’s longest-reaching impact is with kids. He is a member of the Youth Forestry Committee, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Pine Cone Trophy for the winner of the State Future Farmers of America forestry contest.
Wiseman said he gets as much satisfaction from his work with youth than any of his other accomplishments. He stays in contact with many who he has mentored, and the father of one of those young people was in the crowd at Lake Terrace when he won the Meritorious Service to Forestry award.
“That is extremely rewarding,” Wiseman said.
“He has promoted, planned and assisted in Forestry Field Days, forestry short courses, workshops and especially in youth programs,” Traugott said. “His dedication to and enthusiasm for forestry and the forestry community has been outstanding.
“Mike Wiseman was ‘the person’ everyone knew they could depend upon regardless of the project or undertaking.”
Wiseman retired from Georgia-Pacific in June of this year, and said he plans to be more “youth work” closer to home. He and his wife, Brenda, both active members of First Baptist Church-Winona, who was at Lake Terrace to celebrate with her husband, have four children and three grandchildren. (Brenda Wiseman said her husband “is not perfect, but pretty close.”)
“My wife and I have spent a lot of time traveling to see the kids since I retired,” said Wiseman, who still enjoys hunting and fishing as well as a good round of golf. “I’m not saying I have fully retired and will not get back into some aspect of forestry, but I’m enjoying a little break right now.”

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