Forestry Conservationist of the Year

J. Michael Gould

WWF Forestry Conservationist of the Year

Johnny Appleseed, step aside. Mike Gould has planted one million trees!

For many decades, Mike Gould has firmly planted himself as one of the leading advocates for forest health and the importance of planting trees. As a long-time supporter of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Chair of the affiliated Lafayette County Conservation Alliance, and Chair of the county’s delegate team for the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, Mike has deep roots in conservation and is a de facto ambassador for forestry.

In addition to promoting reforestation and best practices, Mike walks the talk, gets dirt under his fingernails, and personally is responsible for planting a million trees of many varieties in his corner of Wisconsin, and beyond.

Mike branched out years ago into the field of mentoring. If you asked him whether he’ll ever stop planting or stop educating others about forestry and other outdoor pursuits, he will tell you that you are barking up the wrong tree.

Mike has continued to be a driving force behind the youth event every year around Earth Day at Blackhawk Memorial Park near Woodford, Wisconsin. There, every fourth or fifth grader is invited to learn outdoor skills that include tree species identification and other forest-related activities.  One of the educational stations included a portable sawmill and discussion of sustainability and timber management. 

Not only has Mike successfully taught thousands of students about forestry throughout his decades of leadership, but he has also mentored hunter education students and new anglers, always including woodsmanship in his lessons. It goes against his grain to leave any child indoors.

This nomination was strongly supported across Southwestern Wisconsin by WWF affiliates, members and partners who agree that Mike Gould is worthy of recognition as WWF’s Forestry Conservationist of the Year.