Karen Bennett has received the prestigious 2016 UNH Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service – the first Extension staff member to receive the honor. Her work as an educator and leader in forestry among landowners, natural resource professionals, youth, local decision-makers, and general audiences earned her this recognition.
Each year, the University of New Hampshire selects a small number of its outstanding faculty for special recognition of their achievements in teaching, scholarship and service. The public service award recognizes and honors those who “have engaged in outstanding service activities that are dependent on their academic expertise and that support the mission of the university.”
“Karen is well-deserving of this recognition,” said Ken La Valley, Extension dean and director. “It is an indication of the value UNH places on our discipline and the educational contribution Cooperative Extension provides to residents of New Hampshire.”
Bennett joined UNH Cooperative Extension in 1979 and was the organization’s first female forester. As a county forester in Hillsborough and Merrimack Counties, she shared information about forest and wildlife management, current use taxation, selling timber, growing Christmas trees, caring for shade trees, identifying trees, trail and road layout, forest ecology, soils and many other topics of concern to woodlot owners. In 1996, she became an extension specialist, focusing on private forest lands management and providing education to landowners, land managers, conservation volunteers, and public decision makers.
In her current position, Bennett leads the forestry group, and develops and delivers educational materials on natural resource topics for, with a focus on professional development for foresters.
“I appreciate being honored for my public service,” said Bennett. “The irony is that I’ve gotten more enjoyment and reward from my work with the people of New Hampshire than I can say. There is no better life than being an extension forester.”
Along with the most recent accolade, Bennett has received many awards during her career, including the 2011 Integrity in Conservation award from the New England Society of American Foresters, the 2011 Partnership Excellence award from the N.H. Natural Resources Conservation Service, the 2009 UNH Presidential Award of Excellence, the 2000 Career Leadership award from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals, and the New Hampshire Cooperative Forest Management Forester of the Year in 1989. She was elected a Fellow by the Society of American Foresters in 2013.