As a senior out of Sikes High School in Winn Parish in the mid-60s, Mervin Parker was awarded a four-year forestry scholarship from Continental Can Company to the forestry school of his choice.
He chose Louisiana Tech over LSU.
“I value my education and degree and I am very proud of the accomplishments of Louisiana Tech University,” said Parker, a board member of both the Louisiana Forestry Association he presided over in 1993-94 and its Foundation, and a member of the Society of American Foresters.
“I enjoyed my time as a student at Louisiana Tech and the many friendships I made,” said Parker, who spent a good bit of this early autumn — his first in retirement — spreading rye grass on his Winn Parish property and listening to Louisiana Tech football games. “I want to see the University and the (School of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry) to continue to be the best it can be. I am thankful for those who supported and encouraged me while I was at Louisiana Tech.”
As a rookie forester, he was handed a mechanical calculator with a paper tape. Budgets and correspondence were all done by hand or with a typewriter, and all data was stored on paper in filing cabinets.
“Black and white aerial photography was used for timberland recognizance, and you were lucky if it was only five years old,” he said. “Today Google Earth and drones provide up-to-date photography. We have more trees today than when I started my career.”
After graduating from Tech in 1969, Parker worked for Continental Can in Savannah, Georgia for 15 years. Then he joined Joe Burns as a partner with Burns Forest Products for nine years, and completed his forestry career with Hunt Forest Products as Corporate Forestry Manager in Ruston, where he was responsible for timberland management and raw material supply to manufacturing plants.
The best part of his job, he said, was hiring young foresters, helping to train them and watching them grow into successful professionals.
“Tech prepared me both academically and professionally,” he said, and added that the way each of us can be good stewards of the Earth is by keeping the environment clean.
“Do not litter our forests,” he said. “Conserve: don’t waste and do recycle. Protect and value our forestland.”