Dwight and Judy Batts Named National Tree Farmers of the Year

Judy and Dwight Batts of Wilson County, N.C., were named 2014 National Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year on July 18 at the American Tree Farm System’s National Tree Farmer Convention in Pittsburgh, Pa. They were selected as national winners from more than 82,000 certified Tree Farmers nationwide.

The Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award is sponsored by STIHL, Inc. AFF President and CEO Tom Martin joined Kenneth Stewart Jr., Chair of AFF’s Board of Trustees and Brad Sorgen of STIHL in presenting the Battses with a trophy and $1,000 in STIHL product certificates.

Dwight and Judy Batts, their children and grandchildren manage their 375 acres of ATFS-certified woodland for timber, water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation. Through perseverance and hard work they have established 60 acres of longleaf pines, a native species that once covered much of the southeastern U.S. but which has declined dramatically over the past century.

The couple raises and releases quail on their property and maintains nest boxes for mallard, pintail and wood ducks. The nest boxes they provide for bluebirds produce between 200 and 250 chicks every year. More than seven acres of wildflowers, grasses and clovers support bees and other pollinating insects. Educating others about forest stewardship is important too. Since 2001, Dwight and Judy have hosted more than 1,500 visitors on their farm, including other Tree Farmers from across the U.S., scouts, school groups, forestry students and professionals, and delegates from Mexico and China.

“Dwight and Judy Batts  not only represent the highest standards of forest stewardship, but also the ideal of keeping forests as forest, to be managed sustainably for future generations,” said AFF President Martin. “They are the fifth generation to steward their land, and they have made sure their work will continue. They have demonstrated their leadership among America’s family forest owners by making their Batts Tree Farm a model of forest management, a place for conservation of water and wildlife, and a place where children and adults alike can learn about and enjoy the outdoors.”

“The sustainable production and conservation that Dwight and Judy have created on their family homestead is an inspiration to natural resource professionals, other landowners, visiting school children and anyone else who is lucky enough to pay a visit,” said Sean Brogan of the North Carolina Forest Service. The couple, he says, “embodies the spirit of the Tree Farm Program.”

“The work that Dwight and Judy Batts do on their Tree Farm for timber production, wildlife, water quality and recreation is exemplary,” said David Henderson, R.F., a consulting forester and president of the N.C. Tree Farm Program. “Equally impressive is the time they spend sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in the community. We are pleased that they have received this well-deserved national recognition.”