- How long have you been at Oregon State?
A long time. I came as a student in 1992. I went to work in the Klamath extension office when I finished my master’s degree in 1994. I moved to Corvallis in 2005.
- How did you end up in the wood science industry?
I wanted to be a veterinarian as a kid growing up in the Chicago area, but I fell in love with forestry and wood science during a community college class and went to Colorado State University to study forestry. There, I worked for the Colorado State Forest Service for two summers, and my favorite part of that experience was dropping in on the sawmills for fun. I didn’t know wood science was a thing I could study until someone told me, and it’s been my passion ever since.
- What is your favorite part about your job?
I love the variety. Each day is different. I teach students, teach workshops, do product development testing, visit mills, go to conferences, travel. No two days are alike. Except for Wood Magic, which just happened in early October.
- Why is Wood Magic different from your typical day to day? Why is it important?
I man the “daily wood” station. I’ve been involved in almost every Wood Magic since it started in 1999. It’s an important outreach opportunity as we continue to talk about the importance of forestry and wood products. At the station I do, I focus on all the products we get from trees. We’re talking to kids, of course, but often the teachers and parent chaperones are just as engaged as the kids because this is all new to them too. I said that ‘the days are alike’ there because at my station, I do a 10-minute demonstration, and then repeat it for a dozen or so classes, several days in a row. I’ve been known to repeat myself a time or two as a result…
- What does your life look like outside of work?
I’m married to Vikki, and we have two girls. Abby, 21, is a senior at the University of Oregon studying psychology. Katherine, 19, is at the Lane Fire Authority Fire Academy studying to be a firefighter. We’re very involved in our church, Calvin Presbyterian, and since we’re empty nesters now, I recently took up playing guitar. I haven’t had a hobby in years, and I’m really enjoying learning to play, even though I’m not sure I’ll ever play outside my house (I keep the windows closed now so I don’t annoy the neighbors).
- What was the last exciting thing you did?
I went skydiving with my younger daughter for my birthday in early September. She’s an adrenaline junkie, and I’d always wanted to go too.
This summer, I also got to travel to Slovenia to visit a former graduate student of mine. We did a research project in Slovenia and the Netherlands. I barely survived the 100-degree weather there.
- You’ve lived and traveled all over Oregon. What’s your favorite spot?
I’ve been to Crater Lake National Park probably 15 times, since we used to live nearby in Klamath Falls, but the coast is my favorite. I love the mountains as well, and I’m happy I don’t have to choose between them.
- Anything good on TV lately?
Ever since I took a sabbatical to New Zealand during the summer of 2016, my wife and I enjoy watching TV set in that area. Right now we’re watching ‘800 words.’ It’s pretty good. We also spend Sunday afternoons watching NFL football, especially the Chicago Bears.
- Would you rather have unlimited tacos or unlimited sushi?
Tacos, but my favorite food is shrimp. It doesn’t get better than shrimp alfredo.
- What was your first car?
A ’75 Buick Skylark. It was a rust bucket that needed a muffler. Now, I have an ’87 Suburban that just keeps running. I use this example in my class when I talk about the quality of the products we buy now.
- What’s the craziest fashion trend you’ve ever rocked?
When I was in high school, break dancing was all the rage, and I did wear parachute pants back then. My family still gives me a hard time about it.