Jeffrey Kirwan of Blacksburg, Va., professor emeritus and forestry Extension specialist in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, has been awarded the Virginia Department of Forestry’s highest civilian honor – the Crown Award.

The Virginia Department of Forestry, the agency charged with protecting and developing healthy, sustainable forest resources across the state, established the Crown Award to recognize an individual or entity that has not only gone beyond the call of duty, but has set a standard of excellence others can only admire. Kirwan is only the fourth recipient in the history of this award, which is the highest honor the State Forester of Virginia can bestow.

State Forester Carl Garrison said, “Jeff is no stranger to high praise for significant achievement. He has a sustained and long-term track record of success, and I’m proud to add to his legacy of excellence and unparalleled achievement.”

Kirwan dedicated many years to researching trees in Virginia as coordinator of the state’s Big Tree Program, which prompted him to co-author the widely acclaimed “Remarkable Trees of Virginia.” The book, which highlights trees that are extraordinary for their age, size, and historic or community significance, was a finalist in the nonfiction category at the 2009 Library of Virginia Literary Awards.

“Kirwan has spoken to thousands of children about the trees in the book, and his tree conservation efforts have garnered much publicity for trees, forests, the environment, and the broader efforts of our entire college,” said Paul Winistorfer, dean of the college. In addition to serving the commonwealth and spreading knowledge to people of all ages, Kirwan walked across Virginia in 11 days as part of a sabbatical in 2007.

Among his many accomplishments since joining the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation in 1978, Kirwan has led a natural resources and environmental education program that reached more than 360,000 youth during a 12-year-period, and incorporated service learning into classes taught in both the College of Natural Resources and Environment and in the American Indian Studies program long before the practice became commonplace.

“In addition to being an excellent teacher, Jeff served the public with distinction as a 4-H agent for Virginia Cooperative Extension in Loudoun and Albemarle counties,” added Garrison. “We are proud to be able to recognize and thank Jeff for all he has done in service to the citizens of the commonwealth.”

Kirwan received his bachelor’s degree from Bridgewater College, master’s degree from the University of Minnesota, and doctorate from the University of Virginia.



Written by LauraBess Kenny of Richmond, Va., a junior majoring in communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

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