Eric Wiseman, associate professor of urban forestry and arboriculture and a Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, has been named coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program.

“I will work very hard to ensure that everyone continues to enjoy and value the Virginia Big Tree Program,” said Wiseman.

The Virginia Big Tree Program, which began as a 4-H and Future Farmers of America project in 1970, aims to increase the care and appreciation of trees. Based in Virginia Tech’s Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, the program maintains a database of the top five largest trees of each species in the state.

Citizens participate by searching for and nominating trees for inclusion in the database and by helping to re-measure trees every 10 years. The Virginia Urban Forest Council, known as Trees Virginia, augments the volunteer effort by funding a summer internship position for a Virginia Tech forestry student to record measurements and take photographs of trees around the state.

The National Big Tree Program releases an updated register of the country’s largest trees biannually. Virginia currently has 64 big trees in the national register, placing the state in fourth place.

“It’s remarkable that Virginia has that many champions given the size of the state,” Wiseman said. “It’s a testament to the rich natural resources we have and people’s passion to the program.”

Wiseman takes the reins from Professor Emeritus and Extension Specialist Jeffrey Kirwan, who served as coordinator of the Virginia Big Tree Program for the past 10 years. Kirwan’s work led him to develop the Remarkable Trees of Virginia and Washington, D.C. Project and to co-author “Remarkable Trees of Virginia.” That project, which Kirwan will continue to lead, seeks to recognize trees for their beauty, history, age, or community significance.

“Having someone like Eric is a big step forward for the program,” Kirwan remarked. “People who own these trees have questions about tree care and protection, and a trained arborist like Eric is well qualified to advise and assist.”

“It’s a real privilege to pick up where Jeff left off with the Big Tree Program,” said Wiseman, who is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. “It’s a great situation to step into. He’s done an excellent job of bringing together a committed core of volunteers. I hope to engender that same level of passion in the volunteers.”

“The Big Tree Program is wonderful complement to our department’s urban forestry program,” Wiseman continued. “It fits in with the mission of what we’re trying to accomplish with our urban forestry outreach at Virginia Tech.”

Wiseman is known for his work on applied arboriculture practices and urban forest inventory and assessment. He is a member of Virginia Tech’s arboretum committee, which applied to have the university recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree Campus USA for its dedication to campus forestry management and environmental stewardship. The university has continued to meet the criteria for the program each year since it was among the program’s initial inductees in fall 2008.

A Virginia Tech faculty member since 2005, Wiseman received his bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Virginia Tech and his doctorate from Clemson University.



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

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