One of the benefits of membership in the N.C. Tree Farm Program is the opportunity to learn from other Tree Farmers. We share stories here about some of our state’s many outstanding forest stewards.


Judy and Dwight Batts

Managing a tree farm is like painting a picture, Dwight Batts likes to say. For a picture—and a tree farm—you need a vision of what you want to create. “You begin by outlining where you want the different features to go,” he said. “Then you start painting it in, adding in the details.” But the key, he says, is the vision.

Read more of Judy and Dwight Batts’s story OR Watch a video about the Batts Farm.

Alice and Riddick Ricks

In August of 2011, Hurricane Irene hammered Northampton County in Eastern North Carolina, with winds of up to 80 miles an hour and 18 inches of rain that destroyed hundreds of acres of crops and downed thousands of board feet of timber.

At Whispering Pines Wildlife Preserve, owned by North Carolina’s 2009 Tree Farmers of the Year Alice and Riddick Ricks, the storm hit just two weeks after they completed a 330-acre thinning operation. The result—a loss of 10 percent of the remaining trees and hundreds of 40-year-old pines in another part of the farm.

Read more of Alice and Riddick Ricks’s story.

Hulka Family Tree Farm

Slade Creek, the Hulka family’s 265-acre Tree Farm in Hyde County, is defined by the waters of a tributary to the Pungo River, which flows to the Pamlico River and Sound. “We have seen all sorts of natural phenomena when duck hunting there including porpoises swimming up the brackish water of the creek, river otters playing in our decoys, eagles circling and tundra swans coming in to check things out,” said Bryan Hulka, who manages the Tree Farm.

Read more about Slade Creek.

Bob and Jean Cooper

Sitting on the screened porch of his historic home, Dr. Bob Cooper recalls with a smile the first time he had an unwanted visitor on the back half of his 165-acre farm that straddles Salem Creek just outside of Winston-Salem. “I heard the cows making a noise that usually meant something was wrong,” explained Cooper. “I headed out to investigate, and when I came through the trees, I came face-to-face with a creature I had never seen before in my life.” Read More.

Boone and Mary Chesson

Boone Chesson’s definition of play – planting trees, cutting or burning undergrowth and maintaining a creek crossing – translates to chores for most of us. A lot of people play golf, hunt and fish, but Chesson likes to play in his woods. Read More.

Bob Vickery

While Vickery struggles with the notion that his tree farm is one of the state state’s best, it may be a classic example of failing to see the forest through the trees. Simply put, Bob Vickery doesn’t own his family farm, he is his family farm.  It shaped his values and attitudes.  Packed with memories, the farm is a living demonstration of what love for nature can occur over a long period of time. Read More.

Albert and Wynette Shaw

Albert Shaw refers to his checkerboard management approach on his farm as being busy, but many foresters would call it being smart. He is spreading out the risk and spreading out the income – or some might say, spreading out the taxes – by managing tracts in different ages. Read More.