A forest and wildlife management specialist at Mississippi State University has been named the national Extension Forester of the Year by the Forest Landowners Association.
Don Bales of Purvis, a senior Extension associate in MSU’s College of Forest Resources and certified wildlife biologist, received the honor at the organization’s recent annual meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. His office is located in the MSU Extension Service’s Southeast District Forestry Office in Lamar County.
Bales was praised for his work in Title III educational programs, which include field days, workshops, short courses, logger education programs and youth events.
"Don played a key role in securing these funds by developing proposals for the Title III counties," said Andrew Londo, forestry professor and Extension program coordinator. "He met with the county boards of supervisors and tailored programs to meet their individual needs."
Bales has garnered nearly $7 million in funding to support more than 1,500 educational programs in the eligible counties.
"Don has earned the respect of the supervisors throughout Southeast Mississippi," said Andrew Ezell, forestry department head. "He has done an outstanding job teaching adults and young people about the conservation and economic importance of natural resources."
As an area associate, Bales works with Amite, Benton, Chickasaw, Forrest, Greene, Harrison, Jefferson, Jones, Perry, Scott, Sharkey and Wilkinson counties.
Bales has worked for the Extension Service since 1993 and began his career as a county agent. He holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry from MSU and is a registered forester.
Bales is active in professional organizations and serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Forestry Association and the Mississippi Wildlife Federation. He is a member of the Quality Deer Management Association, the Southeast Deer Study Group, The Wildlife Society and the Society of American Foresters.
Established in 1941, the Forest Landowners Association represents private landowners in 48 states with education, information and national grassroots advocacy. Its members own and operate more than 40 million acres of forestland.