Beyond a desk – a representation of Forest Service history

Acting Associate Chief Beth Pendleton and Tony Ferguson, Director of Northern Station and Forest Products Lab, cut the ribbon for the new welcome desk in Chief's office in Sydney Yates Building, Washington, D.C. Forest Service Photo by Helen Martinez.

By Alison Rodríguez Feliciano

The Forest Service recently unveiled a new reception desk in the office of the Chief at the Yates Building in Washington, D.C. There was a great deal of excitement around this desk—more than would typically be expected when a new piece of furniture is delivered.

This desk has special significance. It is the result of a partnership among the Forest Products Laboratory, students in the Wood Manufacturing Technological program and Fox Valley Technical College in Wisconsin.

Glenn Koerner, Wood Manufacturing Instructor with Fox Valley Technical College, installs a custom-made desk specifically created for the Forest Service Headquarters Chief’s Office. Lorge and Koerner designed this desk using historically significant wood such as Birds-Eye Maple and Cherry Wood. Forest Service photo by Helen Martinez.

According to Beth Pendleton, Acting Associate Chief, Chief Forester of the Forest Service Tom Tidwell asked for a desk that represented the rich culture of the agency. FPL understood what was required and quickly set to the task of creating a desk that would highlight the agency’s legacy.

The result of that collaboration was a detailed reception desk that incorporated three types of wood from different parts of the country. They used bird's eye maple donated by Michigan Tech from their Ford Forestry Research Center in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They also used black cherry from the Kane Experimental Forest on the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, as well as Philippine mahogany.

"There is a lot of science and a lot of research and significance for the three different woods that have been used" Ferguson said.

"[Black cherry wood] has a lot of historical significance because when a storm blows trees down there is some wood that is recovered and used in the process of creation,” said Tony Ferguson, Forest Products Laboratory director.

Ferguson added that the Philippine mahogany was significant because it was one of the woods the Forest Service studied during World War I while conducting research to find the best wood types for airplane propellers.

He also said that it is important to think about new ways of using and marketing wood.

''There is a big emphasis now on trying to take lower value wood products and develop new, improved ways of using the wood and creating higher values. So that is one of the main reasons for the Forest Products Laboratory and one of the main areas they focus on.”

Forest Service senior leaders pose for group photo in front of the new welcome desk in Chief's office in Sidney Yates Building, Washington, D.C, June 27, 2017. Forest Service photo by Helen Martinez.


Alison Rodríguez Feliciano is a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities intern with the Forest Service Office of Communication