Joe Zeleznik, NDSU Extension Service forester, is the NDSU Agriculture Communication and Association of Communication Excellence - North Dakota’s 2012 communicator of the year.
The Communicator of the Year Award recognizes an individual who displays exceptional expertise and professionalism in delivering educational programs and information to the public through several types of media. The Agriculture Communication staff and North Dakota ACE members select the recipient.
Recognizing that people don’t all learn the same way, Zeleznik uses traditional communication methods including publications, handouts, news releases and workshops, as well as the newer methods, such as Facebook, blogs and YouTube videos to reach his audiences.
“The NDSU Extension Service has the great fortune to have the talents of Joe Zeleznik as our Extension forester,” NDSU Extension director Chris Boerboom said. “Joe has a wealth of ‘tree’ knowledge that he shares through training workshops in communities across the state. Joe has also been our point person with critical issues like the threat of emerald ash borer and the flood response in Minot and Bismarck in 2011. Within Extension and in partnership with the North Dakota Forest Service and other agencies, Joe has created excellent emerald ash borer educational materials.”
Zeleznik discovered his love of forests while working on a tree farm during high school in Ohio, where he was raised. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1990, a master’s degree in forestry from West Virginia University in 1993 and a doctorate in forestry from Michigan State University in 2001.
Before joining NDSU as Extension forester in 2002, he taught forest measurements and tree identification at the State University of New York Ranger School and forest measurements at Michigan State.
Tree insects and diseases have been the main focus of his Extension programming. Although he has spent considerable effort on the emerald ash borer threat, he also has concentrated on educating tree owners about tree planting and pruning, and the general public about North Dakota’s forest products.
“I enjoy the effective and practical manner that Joe uses when teaching at his workshops,” Boerboom said. “He has no problem getting people involved in peeling bark to check for borers or ask questions. Our forest Extension program is in good hands with Joe.”
Zeleznik also has been involved in several research projects, including fire history of ponderosa pine in the North Dakota Badlands, bur oak regeneration methods, riparian forest restoration, weed barrier fabric in tree plantings and the use of grasses in tree plantings to minimize erosion.
NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.