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John M. Collier Award for Forest History Journalism

The John M. Collier Award for Forest History Journalism is given to a journalist whose work incorporates forest or conservation history in an article or series of articles published in North America that relate to environmental issues. John M. Collier, a longtime journalist who covered the forest industry, represented the best of the profession with thorough research, solid interpretation, and clear writing throughout his career. The award seeks to honor his work and memory by recognizing journalists who carry on his tradition of excellence.

Collier Award Details

The Collier Award is open to any newspaper or general circulation magazine, or professional or freelance journalist in North America. Online-only publications are also accepted for this competition. Entries must be postmarked no later than February 28th for the previous year (i.e, 2015 articles for award year 2016). Author, publisher, and date of article must be included. Authors, editors, and the general public are welcome to send any article that fits the award criteria to the Forest History Society. Hard copy versions may be sent to Andrea Anderson at 701 William Vickers Avenue, Durham, NC, 27701, and electronic submissions to: andrea.anderson@foresthistory.org.

The winning article will receive a $1,000 prize along with the option to either visit the Forest History Society Library and Archives or arrange for the presentation of the award plaque at a mutually agreed upon meeting or convention.

History of the Collier Award

John M. Collier (1921–1987) was a New Orleans journalist skilled in many areas of communication, including advertising and sales promotion and public, government, and media relations. He was a working scholar and a prolific writer of articles and special features for forest industry press publications. A member of the Forest History Society’s board of directors, the board established the award to honor his memory after his untimely death to encourage excellence in journalism that incorporates and informs forest and conservation history.

From its establishment in 1987 through the year 2002, the Collier Award annually recognized the author of the best article or series of articles on forest and conservation history published in newspapers, trade press publications, or general circulation magazines. In 2002, FHS redesigned the award to better reach the growing number of journalists writing about conservation and environmental topics. We provided financial support for an Institutes for Journalism in Natural Resources (IJNR) expedition along with a paid visit to the FHS headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, for the selected winner.

Recent Recipients

2016 Collier Award
Phil McKenna, a freelance journalist focusing on energy and the environment, won the 2016 Collier Award. His piece was co-published as "Life in the Death Zone" at NOVA Next and as "The Boys Who Loved Birds" at The Big Roundtable in February 2015. McKenna's article tells the epic story of two nature-loving friends on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain, and the ongoing transformation of the Iron Curtain’s "death zone" into a European Green Belt.

2015 Collier Award
Michael Gaige, a freelance conservation biologist and educator based in Saratoga Lake, New York, won the 2015 Collier Award. His article, "Wolf Trees: Elders of the Eastern Forest," was published in American Forests. The article tells the story of relict "wolf trees," a term used by early twentieth-century foresters to describe undesirable old shade trees that spread like wolves and "preyed" upon forest resources needed by more marketable species.

2009 Collier Award
Michael Jamison, a Flathead Valley bureau reporter for the Missoulian (circulation 300,000) since 1997, won the 2009 Collier Award. With a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in journalism, both from the University of Montana, he is a general-assignment reporter who must gather all kinds of news in a large geographic territory that includes Plum Creek Timber, Glacier National Park, the U.S. Forest Service, and Flathead National Forest. Over the years, Jamison has had a strong, sustained interest in covering forests and their history, ecology, and management.

2006 Collier Award
Jeffrey Barnard from Grants Pass, Oregon is the southern Oregon correspondent for the Associated Press, having worked for the AP since 1983. He is responsible for stories and photos of general interest in southern Oregon, with a particular focus on the environment. He was named first AP state environmental writer, 2003. His longstanding areas of coverage include salmon restoration, forests management, wildfire, Klamath Basin water, and commercial fishing.

2005 Collier Award
Michelle Nijhuis is a contributing editor of the environmental journal High Country News and a correspondent for Orion, and her work has appeared in publications including Smithsonian, Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Sierra, Audubon, and the anthology Best American Science Writing. She wrote an engaging and informative history of dendrochronology (tree-ring research) for High Country News (Jan. 24, 2005).

2004 Collier Award
Zachary Coile, a Washington correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, won the 2004 Collier Award. Coile regularly pursues stories related to natural resource issues and has recently been writing about forest thinning practices and mill operations in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska--work that directly resulted from his FHS-sponsored attendance at the IJNR Midnight Sun Institute held in Alaska in July 2003. FHS congratulates him for demonstrating a serious interest in forest and conservation issues and for showing outstanding professional growth in journalism.

2003 Collier Award
The 2003 Collier Award went to Isak Howell, a staff writer for the Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Virginia) who covers news and features about a local municipal government while also pursuing stories about environmental and natural resource issues. Howell works with his editors to ensure the newspaper maintains cohesive natural resource coverage. He has authored news stories on such topics as water quality and management, forest planning on the Jefferson National Forest, outbreaks of gypsy moth infestations, and severe drought conditions in western Virginia. He attended the IJNR Low Country Institute held in 2002.