Steve Gibbs, manager of the DNR Forest Stewardship Program, is retiring this month after 35 years of dedicated service helping landowners protect and enhance their forests and achieve goals. If you have participated in one of the DNR-WSU Family Forest Owners Field Days in the past three decades, chances are that Steve was there providing an “out-in-the-woods educational opportunity” as he describes it. Steve often jokes that his educational programs were a success if “everyone learned a lot, nobody got hurt, and no cars were left in the parking lot at the end of the day.”
Gibbs spent his entire career working in landowner assistance.
After graduating from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Steve started his career in 1975 as a service forester assisting landowners in Maryland. After three years there, he got the “itch” to move west. Following a short stint with the US Forest Service in Idaho, he returned to school to earn a master’s degree in forest and range management at Washington State University and subsequently worked as a forestry extension agent in Washington and Oregon. In 1989, DNR hired Steve to lead a pilot project in southwest Washington to restructure the agency’s Service Forestry Program. In 1991, he moved to DNR headquarters in Olympia to head up the newly created Forest Stewardship Program, and continued in that capacity until retirement.
Anyone who has worked with Steve will agree that his focus on helping landowners is unmatched. For Steve, familiar phrases like “the customer is always right” and “money-back guarantee” were not platitudes but, rather, the tenets of good customer service. Steve’s caring, generous spirit and get-er-done approach have made him an invaluable resource both for family forest landowners and for those of us who work with him. We’ll miss having him on the team and wish him the best in his future endeavors.
by Andy Perleberg, WSU Extension Forester
NOTE: DNR Small Forest Landowner Office Manager, Tami Miketa, has assumed leadership of the Forest Stewardship Program in addition her current duties. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-902-1415.