TDA Recognizes Outstanding Forestry Employees
Annual awards are Division of Forestry’s highest honor
NASHVILLE - Regional Urban Forester Tom Simpson and Forestry Aide Denny Parker were recently recognized as Forester of the Year and Employee of the Year respectively by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry. The awards are presented annually to a forester and employee who exemplify the highest level of professionalism in serving the citizens of Tennessee.
“The citizens of Tennessee are fortunate to have such dedicated individuals working to improve the sustainability and quality of our urban forests, providing landowner services and protecting our forest resources,” State Forester Jere Jeter said.
As the division’s East Tennessee Urban Forester, Simpson works with local municipalities as large as Knoxville and as small as Harrogate. He helps cities to organize tree boards, conduct tree inventories and develop ordinances among other responsibilities. He also helps to coordinate Tree City USA, TreeLine USA and Tree Campus USA programs. In fact, Simpson was instrumental in making Tennessee top in the nation in the number of recognized TreeLine USA utilities. Tom is an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist, and has vast knowledge on tree insects, diseases and environmental issues with respect to urban trees.
He received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Forestry from the University of Tennessee in 1974 and 1977 respectively. His professional career has included work in consulting, industrial, utility, and urban forestry. He worked for the division from 1980 to 1983, and returned in 1998 as the division’s Regional Urban Forester in East Tennessee.
Parker has served the division’s Highland Rim District since 1989 as a Forestry Aide 2. He is primarily charged with fire suppression duties as a dozer operator. When there are no fires to suppress, he regularly works alongside Area Forester Stephen Peairs assisting landowners with the management of their forests.
“Denny’s ability to lead projects – including moving a fire tower from Sullivan’s Ridge to Ellington Ag Center in Nashville for display, construction of a mobile fire tower for use at parades, and designing highly crafted wooden service awards for fellow division employees – while also performing his regular duties is commendable,” District Forester Jeffrey Piatt said.
Parker is a native of Houston County where he grew up and went to school in the small community of Erin, Tenn.