NASF recognizes excellence in state and private forestry with current and lifetime awards

The National Association of State Foresters is pleased to announce the 2022 NASF current and lifetime achievement award honorees. They are: Laura Buntrock and Olivia Witthun of Wisconsin, Puni Jackson of Hawai’i, and Mark Bays of Oklahoma.

WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters honored several individuals at its 2022 annual meeting for their extraordinary contributions to state and private forestry.

The NASF Awards Committee annually reviews worthy nominations for the association’s lifetime and current achievement awards. This year’s award winners are:

  • Steve Sinclair Current Achievement Award for Urban and Community Forestry: Laura Buntrock and Olivia Witthun
  • Lisa Allen Current Achievement Award for Leadership: Puni Jackson
  • Larry Kotchman Lifetime Achievement Award: Mark Bays 

“Each of this year’s honorees contributed to the forestry community in exceptional ways, above and beyond the call of duty,” said Peter Church, Massachusetts state forester and NASF Awards Committee chair. “To all of this year’s awardees: we appreciate your tremendous work in support of healthy and productive forests and congratulate you all for jobs well done.”


The recipients of this year’s Steve Sinclair Current Achievement Award for Urban and Community Forestry (UCF) are proud and longstanding advocates for urban and community forestry in Wisconsin where they both work in support of a dynamic UCF program. NASF is recognizing Laura Buntrock and Olivia Witthun with this award in particular for their recently published study on the economic benefits of urban and community forestry.

Laura and Olivia’s study covered the entirety of the Northeast-Midwest region—comprised of 20 states and the District of Columbia—and represents the first comprehensive analysis of economic UCF benefits at a regional scale. Its findings provide justification for the enhancement of current UCF programs and the creation of new initiatives to support urban forest management, and has already helped to launch similar research in the South and in the state of California.


Through innovative and culturally relevant programming, the Ho‘oulu ‘Āina Program at Kokua Kalihi Valley brings together community partners to restore and strengthen urban agroforests, while also instilling appreciation for food-producing trees among Hawai’i’s residents.

The program’s director, and this year’s Lisa Allen Current Achievement Award for Leadership honoree, Puni Jackson, has led place-based educational programming in Hawai’i for 18 years. Under Puni’s leadership, the urban forest of Kokua Kalihi Valley has become a healing refuge, attracting visitors from outside the Hawaiian Islands to plant trees and participate in ground-breaking, land-based cultural education.


Mark Bays, the recipient of this year’s Larry Kotchman Lifetime Achievement Award, has worked for Oklahoma Forestry Services as its urban forestry coordinator for 30 years. In addition to introducing thousands of Oklahomans to forestry principles and forest management tools like prescribed fire, Mark has worked closely with the Oklahoma City National Memorial Foundation for decades to share the story of the Survivor Tree, an American elm that miraculously survived the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

Mark continues to tell the story of the Survivor Tree across the nation and around the world and uses the tree’s tale to illustrate the social benefits of urban forestry. Mark also helped NASF immeasurably in 2018 and 2019, when he played an instrumental role in seeing the association’s stormwater performance measure to the finish line.   

To meet past NASF Award winners, visit our Newsroom at

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at or 202-624-5417

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