Warnell School honors distinguished alumni

The University of Georgia Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources recognized two alumni recently, bestowing the distinguished alumnus and distinguished young alumnus awards on two men who have made significant contributions to the forestry industry while strongly supporting their alma mater.

Claude Yearwood (BSF ’69) was named the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. Michael Westbrook (BSFR ’05, MS ’08) won the 2014 Distinguished Young Alumnus Award.

Inducted into the Georgia Foresters Hall of Fame in 2013, Yearwood retired earlier this year as manager of operations, chief operating officer and vice president of the Price Companies. His career has spanned decades in the private forestry industry, first as a consulting forester and land surveyor in central Georgia. He moved from there to other companies, increasing job responsibilities and leadership positions.

He has served as president of the Georgia Forestry Association, president of the UGA Warnell Alumni Association, chairman of the Warnell Steering Committee, Jayhole Club Big Jay Hook and treasurer of the Georgia Forestry Foundation. He has served in many leadership capacities in the Society of American Foresters, including Georgia division chair, Southeastern SAF chair and member of the National House of Society Delegates. He was also instrumental in founding the Billy Lancaster Forestry Youth Camp for educating youth about natural resource management.

Westbrook is the recipient of the Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, given annually to graduates who are active supporters of the Warnell School, are 40 years old or younger and have graduated within the last 10 years.

He is the Atlantic Region manager for the Westervelt Company, responsible for the management and financial performance of the forest products company’s land assets in Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia.

Westbrook is extremely active in supporting roles for the Warnell School and the forest industry. He serves on the SFI Implementation Committee, has been chairman of the Savannah Chapter of the Society of American Foresters, is part of the Georgia Forestry Association’s emerging leaders program and was chair of Warnell’s Young Alumni Committee from 2011 to 2012. As a member of the Young Alumni Committee, he raises money for the school’s assistantships and technology upgrades. He is currently a member of Warnell’s Alumni Steering Committee.

For more information on the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, click here.

A Bulldog Love Story

Ashley Gowder (BS ’07, AB ’07, JD ’10) never imagined she would meet the love of her life at a UGA Alumni Association event, but that’s exactly what happened at a Bulldogs After Business Hours networking event last year.

Now engaged, Ashley and her fiancée, Jeff Mitchell (BBA ’06), are thankful for the Alumni Association event that brought them together, but they’re amazed it didn’t happen sooner.

Both were in Greek life; Jeff was a Beta Theta Pi and Ashley a Delta Zeta. They lived in their respective Greek houses at the same time – almost directly across the street from one another. The two share a number of mutual friends and attended the same tailgates and parties over the years, yet never bumped into each other.

That is until October 24, 2013, the date which the couple now mark as their anniversary, when they arrived (separately) to Kaleidoscope in Brookhaven to enjoy food and drinks with fellow Bulldogs in the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association.

“Alumni events are always a great opportunity to run into people that you have not seen in a while and catch up on our post-college lives, which can often lead to renewed friendships and business opportunities,” Jeff says. “In my case, I was able to meet someone new that became the love of my life.”

Ashley echoes his sentiments, “Alumni events are like having a small piece of Athens in a bigger city! You never know what kind of connections you will make at the events. I certainly did not expect to meet my future husband.”

While the couple isn’t yet sure what UGA traditions they’ll include on their special day, one thing is for certain – the date will not be on a Saturday during football season.

Congratulations on your engagement, Jeff and Ashley!

To get involved with your local alumni chapter, click here.