Sarah J. Medina – 2015 Distinguished Alumna in the School of Forest Resources
Sarah J. Medina (aka Sally) graduated from the University of Maine with a B.S. in Forest Management in 1972. She was the first woman to pursue a forest management degree at UM, hence the first woman required to attend forestry summer camp. At the time (1971), camp was a six-week session between one’s junior and senior years. The Princeton camp was single-sex, with six-man log cabins and a central washroom, so Sally was required to board with a family in town and commute daily. Upon graduation the following spring, she served as a teaching assistant at summer camp, boarding with the family in town and that summer’s lone female student.
In September 1972 she joined Seven Islands Land Company and became the first woman employed as a field forester in Maine. A few women who had pursued forest science degrees were working nationally in research and teaching. There were also a few women in wildlife management careers, but women foresters working in the Maine woods were unheard of. Sally was extremely fortunate to even obtain a job in forestry. At the time, Seven Islands Land Company managed nearly 1.5 million acres in Maine and NH, primarily for the Pingree and Irving families. The Pingree family had two “Sally’s” so immediately her boss, John Sinclair, declared that she would henceforth go by her given name, Sarah.
The Maine Tree Growth Tax Law had just been passed and The Land Use Regulation Commission had recently become the planning and zoning board for all of Maine’s unorganized territory. One of Sarah’s first jobs was interpreting aerial photographs to make broad forest type maps to submit with Tree Growth Tax applications. She also became enmeshed in LURC zoning and regulations, and began managing ownership records, deeds and leases. In the field, she cruised timber, laid out roads, laid out harvest blocks, marked timber for harvest, inspected harvesting operations, maintained boundary lines, surveyed camp lots, dug soil test pits and performed other duties of a field forester. Field experience gave her the essential foundation for all the work she would do throughout her career.
Sarah was Land Use Forester until 1980 when she became Land Use Director. Over time, her job evolved to less work in the field and more work in the areas of recreation administration, regulatory compliance, taxation, communications, and policy and ownership issues. One of the ownership issues was consolidation. During the 1970 and 1980’s she worked on numerous land trades to amalgamate fractional “in-common and undivided” interests. In about 1980, Irving created its own management organization in Maine. Pingree acreage was ultimately consolidated to the 816,000 acres that Seven Islands manages today.
The Pingree family forest was the third in the US to become FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified (1994.) It is also SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) certified as well as a Legacy Tree Farm. The Pingree-New England Forestry Foundation easement (2001) conserves approximately 80% as undeveloped. Remarkably, the land has been owned and sustainably managed by the same family for 174 years (seven generations) with Seven Islands Land Co.as manager since the family founded Seven Islands in 1962.
Sarah administers all recreational management programs on lands managed by Seven Islands, including commercial and recreational leasing, and licensing for short-term activities. Land uses run the gamut, from traditional sporting camps and campsites to bee-yards, bonsai collecting and road rallies. Providing public accommodation through North Maine Woods, Inc. has long been a particular interest of hers. An important aspect of her work is contact and communications with recreational users and user groups including the Maine Professional Guides Association, Maine Snowmobile Association, Maine Sporting Camp Owners Association and many others.
She maintains land ownership and timberland taxation records and coordinates environmental regulatory activities, often working with state agency representatives in the Departments of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (particularly Land Use Planning Commission) and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. She has served on numerous advisory committees and task forces that influence state land use and regulatory policy and/or enhance forest management, including the Governor’s Land Acquisition Priorities Advisory Committee, Bureau of Public Lands and Allagash Wilderness Waterway advisory committees, Land Use Regulation (Planning) Commission task forces and committees (deer, lakes, planning), Snowmobile Advisory Council and the Maine Tourism Commission.
Sarah’s professional affiliations include Maine Licensed Forester (#35), Board of Licensure of Professional Foresters (Chair), Society of American Foresters, Maine Forest Products Council, Small Woodlot Owners Association of Maine, Sportsman’s/Forest Landowner Alliance and Maine Woods Consortium. She currently serves on North Maine Woods’ Administrative and Public Affairs committees, IF & W’s Landowner Sportsman’s’ Relations Advisory Committee (Chair), Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust Board of Directors, Maine TREE Foundation Board of Directors, and as an officer of Girl Scouts of Maine.
Sarah has served on the School of Forest Resources Advisory Committee since 1994, served on a Search Committee for the Irving Chair in SFR and on an accreditation review committee. She enjoys talking with students about managing public use of private land. She also participates in IFW’s hunter ethics courses focusing on landowner relations.
She received the Northeastern Loggers Association award for Outstanding Service to the Forest Industry in 2008 and the President’s Award from the Maine Forest Products Council in 2010.
Sarah lives in Dixmont where she tends her gardens and woodlot. She also enjoys Ski-dooing, rug-braiding, volunteering and spending time with family and friends (especially outdoors and at camp.) She served for seventeen years (Secretary, Chair) on the Planning Board, served on a Comprehensive Planning Committee and is in her twentieth year as coordinator for Food Friend-Z Coop. A Girl Scout since age seven, Lifetime Member and past president of Abnaki Girl Scout Council, she has experience in all aspects of Girl Scouting. She is the recipient of the Honor Pin, Thanks Badge and Thanks Badge II. The “Girl Scouts of Maine Sarah J. Medina Scholarship” was established by colleagues to honor her service. It is awarded to a student who is involved in community service, with preference to Girl Scout service.
The School of Forest Resources is pleased to recognize Sarah J. Medina as the 2015 Distinguished Alumna.