As Don Tardie came to the podium at MFPC’s award ceremony Sept. 19, his friends and colleagues gave him a standing ovation and the applause went on and one.
His friend Jim Robbins Sr., who was presenting the Council’s most prestigious award, gave Tardie a huge smile.
“I think they like you, Don,” he said. “We all do.”
The Maine Forest Products Council established the Albert D. Nutting Award in 1990, to commemorate Nutting’s many contributions to Maine forestry. He was the director of the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, Maine Commissioner of Forestry, and one of MFPC’s founders. This award has been presented, to a remarkable group of individuals, each one of them truly unique, but with a common commitment to Maine and its forest industry. (Previous winners).
Recipients “will have demonstrated recognized qualities of leadership and integrity, as well as a commitment to the values both public and private, generated from the working forest. His or her experience will reflect concern for the sound environmental use as well as the economic value of the forest to industry and the community at large.”
Robbins, who won the Nutting Award in 2015, clearly enjoyed talking about Tardie’s personal accomplishments and his many achievements in Maine’s forestry community. Tardie was born in Eagle Lake, but has lived in Ashland since 1972. Robbins read much of his friend’s lengthy resume, including Tardie’s B.S. degree in forest management at UMaine, his long military service, and his extensive experience in the forest products industry as managing director of the Maine Woods Company and influential roles at Fraser Paper, J. Paul Levesque and Sons Inc., and Pinkham Lumber Co.
“It’s just a great pleasure and a real honor to present this award to Don Tardie,” Robbins said. “Don is a rock in our industry. Don always stands for what’s right.”
“I would like to say that Don really understands the politics of our industry about as well as anybody that I’ve ever met. I’ve had a lot of fun working with him on these things.
“Just one more thing I want to tell you. Two years ago we were having a meeting down at the Lucerne Inn – for two days we kind of did a retreat to work on for long-range planning for this association—and I can’t tell you how much Don contributed to that. This guy is a real long-term, strategic thinker. He’s just great. Don thanks a million for all you’ve done.”
In his acceptance speech, Tardie said, “I am very honored to receive this award tonight. And I receive it on behalf of my wonderful wife, Lynda, our two sons, Michael and Timmy, and our daughter Kathy. This award is very much theirs as much as it is mine. I want to thank them for supporting me throughout the years and for showing their love and understanding for my career.
“It’s been what I call a trilogy of events – things that happened, things that worked in my favor and things that have been very challenging along the way. But the Nutting Award means a lot to me personally because Al Nutting played a major role in my formative years at the university.
“Like Jimmy and Dave Struble, I was on the dean’s list one semester and on the other dean’s list the next semester. It happened more times than one. But those who knew Al Nutting knew that he was short on words and his words meant a lot. You had to be listening. Because if you weren’t listening, you might be driving down the road someday and run into the ditch because all of a sudden the light bulb came on. That’s the type of guy he was. He really had a lot of foresight and symbolism, whatever fancy words you want to put around that. He made you think when he talked to you.
“In class, I dreaded getting a note from his secretary, asking me to stop in to see Director Nutting. And those times were sometimes good news and more times than not they were bad news. Because a lot of those bad news events were tune-ups about what I wasn’t doing as opposed to what I should be doing.
“I was trying to take a lot of courses out of the curriculum, in engineering, and you know he said you had to take other courses that were not inspiring. They were forest fire control, forest policy, I had a hard time staying awake in class. But he made you take those courses plus take other courses. So I’d cut those courses and go to the engineering courses. Well, that wasn’t to be. I had to pass those courses as well as the engineering courses.
“So those tuneups happened quite often, but he was a man who could challenge you and your abilities. He was a great mentor to many who took his words to heart. And I’ve got to thank him for my career in part because he mentored me.
“In 40 plus years in forestry, I’ve been blessed to develop good relationships with a lot of people and great friends. May our paths always continue to cross and I want to thank you for these friendships. It’s been very special. Through the years the Maine Forest Products Council has been the only organization that’s survived and fought the good fight on behalf of this industry. All the other organizations have come and gone, but this council has prevailed.
“We still have to continue to fight for our rights to our trees. We still have to continue to fight for the land and we still have to continue to fight to do business in this state. You would think that after all the hard times we’ve gone through, light bulbs would have come on somewhere. But I have to say, light bulbs are starting to turn on. Just recently I sensed that the whole forest community is getting the respect it justly deserved – through the leadership of the Council — Patrick and his team; PLC and Dana Doran; SWOAM and Tom Doak, and others.
“We’re coming together as a formidable force. As was said earlier by Jim Contino that this unity and strength bodes well for the future of this industry.
“So I want to take a moment to recognize and thank Patrick, Sue, Roberta, Pat Sirois and Michelle MacLean for the outstanding job they do not only for this Council, but for the future of forestry in Maine.
“And on behalf of my family, I thank you again for this award.”