Award-winning forester makes a difference to children, possibly creating future foresters

Wayne Fitzwater
DNR forester Wayne Fitzwater shows off the 'Hero of the Heart' Award he received for teaching school children about trees and forestry. Photo: DNR

DNR employees often go out of their way to make a positive impact on our children’s future. They can open a child’s eyes to the natural world around us and offer a glimpse of the opportunities ahead in natural resources professions.

Longtime DNR employee, Wayne Fitzwater, is one of those people. He was recently honored with the Dry Creek Hero of the Heart Award for his tireless efforts over the past 21 years to help children understand the importance of trees and how foresters manage them.

Wayne partnered with Cameron Fields, a forester with Merrill and Ring and a Hero of the Heart award winner, to help students in the Port Angeles School District learn more about forestry, logging, economics, seedlings, planting trees, and other forestry issues.

Using the annual Arbor Day event as a lead in, Fitzwater and Fields taught students about the natural world around them with patience, kindness, and humor. What better way to keep a child’s interest?

Each year, students at Dry Creek Elementary School watch a video, “What does a forester do?” After discussing a forester’s responsibility, Fitzwater takes them on a field trip to plant trees. Each child gets to learn the process of planting a tree properly and the importance of replanting after a harvest. In some years, as many as 400 trees are planted.

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