Congratulations Terry and Howard Putnal: 2023 Jon Gould Florida Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year

Terry Putnal (center) with Florida Tree Farm President, John Nash (left) and Chris Demers

By Ginger Feagle, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and John Nash, Florida Tree Farm Program President

The Florida Tree Farm Program is proud to recognize Mr. Terry Putnal and, his father, Howard Putnal (in memoriam) as the 2023 Jon Gould Florida Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year. Each year, one of Florida’s 1,300 certified Tree Farms is selected for recognition for exhibiting exceptional forest stewardship to protect and improve our forest resources and promoting forest stewardship within their community. The Putnals’ tree farm operation exemplifies The American Tree Farm’s four critical points of light – Wood, Water, Recreation, and Wildlife.


Terry and his father, Howard Putnal, at theiir Tree Farm in 2021.

Howard Putnal originally purchased the Madison County property in the early 1980s and it has been a Florida Certified Tree Farm for nearly 40 years. Over 350 of their 493 acres are enrolled in the Florida Tree Farm Program. Howard always aspired to be the Florida Tree Farmer of the Year, but sadly passed away just over a year ago. Terry Putnal is very proud to manage the property in accordance with his father’s vision and honors the management decisions that he and his father developed together. Terry has ensured his father’s legacy will continue by confirming that his nephew is familiar with their forest and wildlife management plans.


This wetland portion of the property is a part of the headwaters to Norton Creek and is protected to provide wildlife habitat and water resource benefits.

One of Howard’s greatest concerns for the property’s future was to preserve the headwaters of the cypress tree-laden Norton Creek. Terry respects this wish and included this preservation in his current management plan. In past years, Terry’s father planted many sawtooth oaks and other mast-producing trees in this wetland zone for wildlife. Terry has continued to follow his father’s lead by removing planted pines that adjoin the creek and is allowing the forest to naturally regenerate.


Terry is a wealth of knowledge to his community regarding the appropriate application of herbicides for successful pine establishment and growth. Terry works in close partnership with his Florida Forest Service county foresters, Zach Butler and Jared Beauchamp, to obtain the best and most recent industry information. In addition to managing his own property, Terry operates a business that provides high-quality site preparation, planting, and vegetation management for other landowners. Although it is his livelihood, whenever a landowner asks Terry for information on proper herbicide application, management decisions, or planting techniques, Terry provides the information free of charge because he wants the landowner to be successful. Terry wants to see the best in forestry and contributes to his growing knowledge by being the first to experiment with techniques such as planting seasons, densities, temperatures, methods (e.g., bare-root vs. containerized), and/or herbicide application rates.


Recreationally, Terry allows hunting on the property, but his main interest is vested in the history of the old Florida Cracker Horse and scrub cows. He maintains breeding herds of both breeds and endorsed having the Cracker Horse become the “State Horse” by joining others in a ride to Tallahassee. Not only does he recognize the cultural history and breed’s function, but he’ll also actively jump on their back to round up stray cattle when moving the herd.


Right tree in the right place: longleaf pine is the best tree for the higher, sandy portions of the property.

Terry’s land management strategy is a great example of how to responsibly use forestry practices “in the right place” to meet economic goals. Guided by his father’s passion for forestry, Terry provides a positive impact to fellow forest owners and is very worthy of this honor.  Congratulations Terry and Howard Putnal (in memoriam)!


Jon Gould

Florida’s Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year Award honors the memory of Mr. Jon Gould, a respected member of Florida’s Tree Farm Program State Committee and a proud Tree Farmer and advocate for forestry for more than 30 years throughout the southeast. Mr. Gould was selected as the Florida Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year in 2006 and as the Southern Regional Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year in 2018. Mr. Gould passed in 2019. His legacy lives as an ultimate model of the Tree Farm Program for which the Florida award is now named as of 2020. Learn more about Jon, his wife Carol and the Gould Tree Farm at:


This piece was written by Ginger Feagle, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and John Nash, Florida Tree Farm Program President


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Posted: August 7, 2023

Category: Conservation, Forests, Invasive Species, Natural Resources, Recreation, UF/IFAS Extension, Water, Wildlife
Tags: Awards, Family Forest, Florida Land Steward Program, Forest Management, Forestry, Natural Resource Conservation, School Of Forest Fisheries And Geomatics Sciences, Timber, Tree Farm, Trees, Wildlife

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