Blake Sherry ’17 wants to preserve Georgia’s forests and paper economy.
SEEING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
According to the Georgia Forestry Commission, paper and pulp was the No. 1 sector of Georgia’s forestry industry last year, accounting for 65 percent of total revenue. But, before trees become paper, someone has to determine which trees will make the best pulp and the environmental and economic impact of using those trees. This is what Blake Sherry ’17 will be doing as a procurement officer at International Paper upon graduation from the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. The opportunity came from a summer internship he did with the company.
“Some of the guys I worked with at International Paper have been there for 40 years,” he said. “I admire a company where people stay that long.”
Blake has always loved being outdoors, something that is rooted in family hunting trips and farming. When the Marietta native came to UGA, he originally intended on majoring in business, but he knew that Warnell is where he needed to pursue his education. He says taking forestry economics and international forest business with professor Jacek Siry, Ph.D. has had a tremendous impact on his understanding of sustainability.
“When most people think about sustainability, they don’t realize that you have to look at not only if it’s good for the environment, but also for the people who live in or near that environment,” he said.
In his own words
“Not everyone can go outside and walk around in the woods and get paid for it. The scholarships have not only paid for activities, but eased the financial burden placed on me so that it has allowed me to get more involved in school.”
In 2016, Blake received the Georgia Forestry Association Scholarship as well as the C.M. Stripling Scholarship. He also received a $500 scholarship from Warnell’s Young Alumni Association, which allowed him to attend two Society of American Foresters (SAF) conferences and compete against other schools in Quiz Bowl while there.
As president of the UGA Forestry Club, Blake competes in Conclave every March and is a champion logger. Conclave is a part technical, part physical athletic event that began in the 1950s at the University of Georgia. Fifteen southern forestry schools compete every March doing everything from pole climbing to underhand chop, which is standing on top of a log and cutting through it.
“We practice [for Conclave] every week in Whitehall Forest, and the wood that we cut is donated by alumni at Beasley Forest Products in Hazlehurst, Georgia,” he said. “Warnell’s alumni are very generous.”
Blake has participated in an Outdoor Without Limits hunt, where students go on hunting trips with people who have physical disabilities. He also served as Warnell’s Student Government Association representative, and in that role he got The Creamery to stay open 30 minutes later and got the invasive Bradford Pear removed from campus.
“Forestry is an interaction of natural resources and man—we’re all about conservation,” Blake said. “Most people think that when you get a forestry degree that you’re going to be a park ranger. But, I worked with a forester in Athens selling timber to landowners.”
Blake has gotten a wealth of real world experience in his time at Georgia and plans to go back to school to get a MBA or MFR degree someday. He credits his scholarships and Warnell’s highly engaged alumni with enabling him to seize every opportunity. Blake has been able to attend a forest biometrics conference, compete in Conclave every year and connect with industry professionals who helped him land a job post-graduation.
“Not everyone can go outside and walk around in the woods and get paid for it,” he said. “The scholarships have not only paid for activities, but eased the financial burden placed on me so that it has allowed me to get more involved in school.
Update: Blake started as a fiber supply associate at International Paper in June 2017.