2013 Abby Holman Award: Dr. Robert Wagner

Dr. Robert Wagner
Dr. Robert Wagner

 By Peter Triandafillou, Huber Resources

Dr. Bob Wagner has a very long list of academic and research accomplishments. I would like to concentrate on three that are of particular importance for the Abby Holman Public Service Award.

Bob became Director of the School of Forestry at U Maine at a time when forestry enrollment and programs have declined. During his tenure, he and the excellent faculty at the school revamped the curriculum and consolidated majors. At a time when many accredited forestry programs ended, Maine’s has flourished and enrollment is up. All of us depend on the quality students that the School of Forestry produces, and we are fortunate to have one of the best programs in the country here in Maine.

Bob took over as Director of the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit at a time of transition. Rising costs and declining membership forced the organization to eliminate several positions and to adopt a project research model. During Bob’s tenure, CFRU’s contributing acreage and membership has increased, as has the budget and research output. The CFRU is the longest running forestry research cooperative in the United States, and it has produced much of the practical, applied research that we depend on.

Bob is the Director of the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests at U Maine. The Center includes the CFRU as well as research programs on family forests and conserved forests. This broad focus on applied research will yield results that are useful across Maine’s diverse working forest.

Wagner, Strauch, Triandafillou and Doty.
Wagner, Strauch, Triandafillou and Doty.

Any one of these achievements would warrant tonight’s award. To achieve this trifecta of accomplishment is extremely impressive. It is therefore my honor and pleasure, on behalf of the Maine Forest Products Council, to give my friend and colleague Bob Wagner The Abby Holman Public Service Award for 2013.

ABOUT THE AWARD: The Abby Holman Public Service Award is d given by the Maine Forest Products Council to an individual (or individuals) in recognition of outstanding service on behalf of Maine’s forest products industry.

The criterion for this award is simple. The recipients must demonstrate a level of passion, loyalty, and dedication to Maine’s forest products industry, to good government, and a robust economy much the same way that our former Executive Director and friend Abigail “Abby” Holman did.

Abby was born in Lewiston, Maine. As a young adult she became a registered Maine guide, and graduated from the University of Maine Law School in 1991. Abby began her legal career as a law clerk to Governor John McKernan, and quickly became a valuable member of his staff and eventually became his legislative director. Abby spent her time off as an assistant district attorney in the Bath District Court. Soon, she spent a brief, but highly successful role as press secretary for Olympia Snowe in her first run for the United States Senate. Abby’s legal career then continued with work at Pierce Atwood Law Firm focused on environmental practice areas. Abby’s work, as counsel to the Maine Forest Products Council soon led her to serve in the capacity of Executive Director. Her love of Maine and our natural resources showed in her work, and it was here that Abby built a reputation as being Maine’s most fierce defender of traditional natural resource industries. She helped lead the industry to many victories including the defeat of two statewide anti-forestry referenda. Abby lived her life consistent with her beliefs and eventually bought a farm and large woodlot, which she actively managed. After her time at the Council, Abby ran for the Maine House of Representatives, where she served until her tragic death in a charity skiing event on April 7, 2007.

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