2013 Distinguished Alumnus

Education:GEORGE F. RITZ graduated from the University of Maine with his B.S. in Forestry in 1971. He then went on to receive an M.P.S. in Resource Economics from UMaine in 1982.

George made his first contributions as a forester while serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Chile from 1968-71. He expanded his education in tropical forestry by obtaining a Certificate of AgroForestry from the Centro Agronomico Tropical de Investigacion y Ensenanza (C.A.T.I.E) in Costa Rica. From 1982-86, George served as Associate Director and then as Director of the Natural Resources Program and interim Country Director for the U.S. Peace Corps in Paraguay.  George is proficient in Spanish and Guarani, and has a working knowledge of several other languages.

He also has distinguished himself as a professional forester in Maine over the past four decades. George is well known for his innovative forestry practices and impeccable stewardship ethic as a forester for the Bureau of Parks and Lands since 1990. Before working for BPL, George worked as a forestry consultant during the 1970s and 80s in Maine and internationally.  He also was Forestry Instructor for Vocational Education in Mattawamkeag, Maine from 1978-80. Earlier in his career, George worked as a forestry technician for the U.S. Forest Service on the San Juan National Forest, Georgia Pacific Corporation in Maine, and the Maine Forest Service. George is the recipient of the Outstanding Field Forester Award and the Austin Cary Award from the Society of American Foresters.

George also has been an outstanding citizen of Maine. He has served on the Planning Board, Board of Selectman, Board of Appeals, and Housing Corporation for the town of Bradford.

Arguably, George’s most noteworthy contribution, however, has been as a humanitarian in the third world. Since 1997, George and his wife, Sylvia, have built six Andrea Ritz Clinics in the Caazapa and Cordillera states of Paraguay. George and Sylvia built these clinics in memory of their 12-year-old daughter Andrea to bring medical care to poor, rural families and children in Paraguay. They also have constructed schools and clean water systems in rural villages and for remote, native tribes. Accomplishments of the Andrea Ritz Clinics in Paraguay can be seen at: http://www.facebook.com/paraguayclinics/timeline

The SFR faculty recognizes George F. Ritz as the 2013 Distinguished SFR Alumnus because he has represented UMaine’s Forestry Program with the highest professional standards during his distinguished forestry career in Maine and abroad, and also for his truly outstanding humanitarian contributions in South America. George exemplifies what students graduating from the SFR can aspire to achieve in Maine and around the world in their careers.