Agriculture News

September 11, 2023

Purdue honors contributions of forestry and natural resources professionals and academics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources honored five individuals for their career achievements at an awards ceremony held at Purdue University on Sept. 8.

David Case (BS forestry ’80) received the department’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Trent Osmon (BS forestry ’99) was named the FNR Distinguished Alumnus, and Adam Janke (BS wildlife ’09) was selected as the FNR Outstanding Young Alumnus for 2023.

John “Jack” Seifert was honored with the Chase S. Osborn Award in Wildlife Conservation, and Emily McCallen (PhD ’18) received the Chase S. Osborn Early Career Award.

Lifetime Achievement Award

David Case made his impact on the natural resources field as the founder, president and owner of D.J. Case & Associates. The private communications and public relations firm helps agencies and organizations distill complex issues and technical research findings into language that is easily understood by the public, better informing them about critically important conservation issues. Over the last 37 years, Case and his staff have worked on projects ranging from a Yup’ik Eskimo education program assessment in Alaska to key deer in the Florida Keys.  

“The place where you have the most impact potential is at the spearpoint where the tough decisions are being made or people are being persuaded or not by how effective you are. At D.J. Case & Associates, we’ve been fortunate to be involved in projects that have some aspect like that. I would never have been in those positions if it weren’t for the building blocks that were laid at Purdue,” Case said.

FNR Distinguished Alumnus Award

Trent Osmon got a head start toward his career as part of the co-op program, which allowed students to alternate semesters between the field and classroom. Osmon worked 40 hours a week in the public works division at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, in southern Indiana for three years. There he received hands-on training in forest management and environmental assessments before earning his bachelor’s degree in forestry in 1999. After graduation, the Odon native accepted a full-time position as a forester at Crane, a position he held until 2010, when he was promoted to forestry program team lead. Osmon is now the environmental division supervisor on the naval installation, overseeing environmental compliance programs and cultural resources management.

“I always knew I wanted to work outdoors, but Purdue FNR was where I realized who I was,” Osmon said. “Purdue holds an extremely special place in my heart and is one of the most important pieces of my life in terms of education and experience, and it got me where I’m at now.”

FNR Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Adam Janke, a Monticello native who earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife from Purdue in 2009, gained hands-on career experience through summer undergraduate positions. He worked as an intern biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a wildlife technician with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and a research technician for both the Delta Waterfowl Foundation and the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. In 2011, he earned a master’s degree in fisheries and wildlife at Ohio State University, and in 2016 he completed a PhD at South Dakota State University. Janke then accepted his current position on the faculty at Iowa State University. Over the last seven years, he has studied wetland birds, songbirds and game birds, and applied findings of his research to aid the conservation and preservation of wildlife across agricultural landscapes.

“I wanted to be a wildlife biologist even before I knew I could do it professionally,” Janke said. “When I found out there was a major at Purdue, I knew I wanted to study wildlife at Purdue, and the rest is history. Wildlife biology is a really accessible form of science. You don’t need a fancy analytical machine in a lab — you just need a pair of binoculars and patience.”

Chase S. Osborn Award in Wildlife Conservation

John “Jack” R. Seifert, a St. Louis native, has contributed to wildlife conservation in Indiana throughout his 45-year career in forestry. Seifert was hired as an Extension forester in the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at the Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center. In that role, he educated and promoted professional forest management to landowners and provided professional education to foresters for 27 years. Seifert later accepted his current position as the Indiana state forester and the director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry. He has been vital in supporting the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment in Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests, a research study conducted by Purdue and other universities, which evaluates the responses of plants and animals to forest management treatments. “I started my conservation career when I was very young, and hunting was near and dear to my life,” Seifert said. “As I look back on my time at Purdue, it was the best experience I could have ever had. Purdue presented the ability to grow professionally and to educate those willing to be educated in natural resource science, which was a pretty rewarding experience.”

Chase S. Osborn Early Career Award

Emily McCallen took an untraditional path to her career in natural resources. After a year in liberal arts college, she took time off to reassess her goals and work. She returned, took her first biology class and was hooked. In 2018, McCallen completed a PhD in forestry and natural resources at Purdue, researching the state-endangered eastern hellbender salamander. That same year, she was hired as a wildlife biometrician for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife. Over the last five years, she has collaborated with biologists and wildlife managers to turn data and statistics into applied science and find unique ways to present that information to the public.  

“My time at Purdue was amazing,” McCallen said. “I got to work with a lot of people while I was there as a grad student, and I feel really lucky that I get to work with those people now here in my capacity as a biometrician. At the DNR, we have an awesome collaborative environment with great people who are always pushing each other to improve. To have the work that I'm doing here in Indiana acknowledged and honored by the same people I worked with in FNR feels like a huge honor and a bit overwhelming, but I am so grateful.”

 Writer and media contact: Wendy Mayer, wendymayer@purdue.edu

Agricultural Communications: 765-494-8415;

Maureen Manier, Department Head, mmanier@purdue.edu

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