Updates & Blog

Two Southern State FIA Employees Named Davita Colker Bryant Recipients 

Shannon Coker
Director of Communications and Government Affairs
Mississippi Forestry Commission, on behalf of SGSF

Pictured (L to R): Tomas Rowe, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry, and Wesley Bouknight, South Carolina Forestry Commission

Two exceptional state Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) employees, Thomas Rowe from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Division of Forestry, and Wesley Bouknight from the South Carolina Forestry Commission were recently honored with the Davita Colker Bryant Award for Excellence. This prestigious award, a part of the US Forest Service Director’s Award for FIA Excellence, recognizes outstanding dedication and service.

The FIA program provides long-term, detailed nationwide forest information. The information is used for a multitude of scientific research and is used daily by forestry agency managers, private companies, and lawmakers to make crucial decisions. As information about forest change, climate change, and carbon sequestration becomes increasingly important, FIA data will become even more vital on national, state, and local scales.

Rowe and Bouknight both received the Davita Colker Bryant Award for excellence in any aspect of field data collection. Rowe was recognized for his instrumental role in transforming the State of Tennessee’s FIA program. As FIA coordinator, he provided leadership and dedication to the program and worked diligently to identify and resolve bottlenecks and address crew concerns. Bouknight was recognized for the highest quality field data collection (99.47% accuracy) and his hard work, mentorship, and dedication to field data collection for the South Carolina Forestry Commission. Byron Rominger, SGSF FIA Committee Chair, states, “On behalf of the SGSF FIA Committee, I would like to congratulate Thomas and Wesley for their outstanding work and dedication to the FIA program and for being recognized as recipients of the Davita Colker Bryant Award.  The examples they have set should be an encouragement to us all within the Southern FIA program.”

The award is named in honor of Davita Colker Bryant, who grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, had an immense love of the outdoors, and was actively engaged in environmental conservation. Davita was killed in a plane crash in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana on September 20, 2004, while being transported to a remote airfield along with fellow FIA crew members Jodee Hogg and Matt Ramige. Jodee and Matt miraculously survived the crash, but Davita, pilot Jim Long, and Forest Service specialist Ken Good perished. This award symbolizes the tremendous respect and love that the FIA family has for its field personnel, who are the very foundation of the organization, and it is presented to the field crew leader or member who exemplifies that dedication, leadership, work ethic, and focuses on continual learning that Davita demonstrated.

Since the 1930s, FIA crews have tirelessly collected critical information about the status, conditions, and trends in our Nation’s forests. FIA, the third nationwide forest inventory in the world, is now one of the leading national forest inventory programs globally. This achievement is a testament to the unwavering dedication and hard work of our field personnel. Without them, FIA would not enjoy the stature and esteem it has in the national and global forestry community. We sincerely appreciate and respect their invaluable contributions.