Becoming the First Female Forester at Hammermill


























In honor of Women’s History month, we spoke with Brenda Heindl, one of the first female foresters at Hammermill Paper Company, which was acquired by International Paper in 1986. Brenda told us her inspiring story of finding a career that would take her to forestlands across the US, as well as Canada and Russia. She became the first and only woman forester that Hammermill Southern Operations has ever had. Brenda shares her advice for women interested in forestry, and her knowledge on forest conservation.

What sparked your interest in becoming a forester?

Honestly, when I was finishing high school I had never heard of a forester. My HS college counselor – Ms. PK Faye – suggested I might like forestry. When I asked her, “What do foresters do” she told me, “They sit in fire towers.” To this day, I have never set foot in a fire tower.

Growing up in Virginia, I liked being outside – I rode horses and spent a lot of time at the farm, working with the horses, helping teach riding lessons, also swimming in the South Anna River and wandering through the woods either on foot or horseback. Growing up, I also liked math and science, which are both used a lot in the forestry field. In college at Virginia Tech I even took two quarters of organic chemistry as electives!

When I was in college I co-oped with the US Army Corps of Engineers as a forestry technician and this gave me a good feel for what was really involved in being a forester. I really enjoyed the work and so I continued to major in forest resource management and wildlife management at Virginia Tech.

When I was senior at Virginia Tech, four professors took about 15 students on a Spring Break trip to visit forest industry companies in the deep South (Alabama and Georgia) – Georgia Kraft (now IP Rome, GA), Union Camp (now IP Prattville, AL), Container Corp, MacMillan Bloedel (now IP Pine Hill, AL), and Kimberly-Clark. That trip resulted in me learning that Hammermill was hiring.

Describe why you enjoyed being a forester.

I had an opportunity to do such a variety of things and to see forestland across the United States, Canada and even Russia all under the umbrella of work and get paid for it! I told one of my first bosses I could not believe I was getting paid to do this and he said he could probably make some other arrangements.

I cruised timber, marked timber, bid on timber, managed thousands of acres of land, worked with loggers and other contractors, worked with non-industrial landowners to manage their lands, trapped beaver, drove a tractor, planted trees, sold tree seedlings, and sold utility poles.

I also enjoyed the variety of people I had the opportunity to meet and work with, either as International Paper co-workers, contractors, customers or fellow foresters working for other companies, or trade association folks.

How do foresters conserve forests?

First, it is important to make the distinction between preservation and conservation. People often confuse the two. Both terms involve a degree of protection, but how that protection is carried out is the key difference. Conservation is the sustainable use and management of natural resources including wildlife, water, air, and earth deposits to benefit people. The conservation of renewable resources like trees involves ensuring that they are not consumed faster than they can be replaced. Preservation, in contrast to conservation, attempts to maintain natural resources in their present condition by excluding management and any human activity.

Foresters conserve forests by using and managing forests while keeping forests healthy. If we do not have demand and use of paper and wood products there is no need for people to grow trees and have forests. It is just like if people stopped eating beef – no one would raise cows anymore. Typically, the way we lose forests is not due to forest industry activity but a result of agriculture and development. If the forest industry owns land they may cut the timber from time to time but they will keep that land growing trees so they have wood fiber to make their products.

What is your best advice for a woman who is interested in becoming a forester?

Go for it – you can do whatever you put your mind and heart into! Get on-the-job experience. Be open-minded and willing to work hard.

What is one aspect of forestry that you would like women to know about?

People need to know that there is a lot more to being a forester than you think. As I mentioned, when I was finishing high school, my high school college counselor suggested forestry as a major, and all she knew about forestry was that foresters sat in fire towers, or so she thought. If you are lucky enough to work for a company like International Paper, your forestry background can lead you to quite a variety of jobs – just about anything you want to do from forestry to finance to sales to logistics to IT and on and on.



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Thought-Provoking Facts on Paper, Forests and Recycling

1. Forest area in the U.S. increased by 5,800 NFL football fields per day between 2007 and 2012.[1]

2. The volume of wood (trees!) on U.S. timberland increased by the equivalent of 159 Empire State Buildings per year between 2007 and 2012.[2]

3. In 2015, the U.S. recovered enough paper (for recycling) to fill 125 Empire State Buildings.[3]

4. From 2005 to 2015, U.S. forests stored the equivalent in carbon to taking 137 million cars off the road each year.[4]





























[1] Forest area grew by 14 million acres between 2007 (752 million acres) and 2012 (766 million acres) (USDA Forest Service, 2014). A full football field including the end zones is 360 ft by 160 ft or 1.32 acres ( Forest area grew by 10.6 million football fields (14 million acres of forest area/1.32 acres in a field) in five years = 2.1 million per year = 5,811 football field per day.

[2] Net volume growing stock on timberland in the U.S. grew from 942,949 to 972,397 million ft3 between 2007 and 2012 (USDA Forest Service, 2014) – an increase of 29,448 million ft3 = 5,890 million ft3 per year = 16 million ft3 per day. The volume of the Empire State Building is 37 million ft3 ( )

[3] Recycling one ton of paper saves 3.3 cubic yards (89.1 cubic feet) of landfill space (—paper.pdf ). Empire State Building = 37 million ft3 (its space saves 415,264 tons of paper). Paper recovery data was obtained from .

[4] A conventional gas vehicle in the U.S. emits 2,720 lbs of carbon (10,000 lbs of CO2 eq. per year) ( ). There are 2204.62 lbs/metric tonne therefore an average car emits 1.23 metric tonne of carbon/y. Between 2005 and 2015, carbon stock in the forest rose from 87,271 to 88,961 million MT of carbon – an increase of 1,690 million MT over 10 years or 169 million MT/y (equivalent to 137 million cars) ( – Table 6-12)

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Meet the Team – Kara Crook

Meet Kara! Our newest, wonderful sales representative based out of our location down south: Mobile. This lady has been with us for one year and one week, and is constantly driving all over the coast and the panhandle of Florida searching for opportunities and solutions to help her customers’ businesses run efficiently.

I was able to catch up with our youngster and pick her brain about what in the world she did before working for Strickland and what it means to bring innovative, fresh thinking to a billion year old paper house.

EM: So Kara, I heard you have a family. Would you bring them with you if you were stranded on a middle-of-nowhere island?

Kara: No. Although my family is very close and we love spending time at the beach, their competitive card games would be the end of me. I’d bring my dog Bear as a companion, a fire starter kit, an umbrella and a boat.

EM: Boats! Yes. You recently graduated from the University of South Alabama, way to go! How does it feel being an adult and knowing that your mom will never iron your clothes again?

Kara: No one irons anymore, that’s why the dryer was invented. I will miss eating her spaghetti often.

EM: I’ve heard that people around your age think they know everything. Is there anything you don’t know and would like to learn?

Kara: Learning a new language would be nice. I’d like to learn Italian so I could travel there and be able to communicate easily with the locals.

EM: I bet they’ll teach you to make spaghetti- if you ask nicely in Italian. I heard you singing in the car the other day and will skip the question about having a favorite karaoke song, as I’m not sure if they’d allow you on stage. Do you prefer the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

Kara: Stones

EM: Hm. I’ve enjoyed having a coworker who brings innovative, fresh ideas to this industry. Besides confusing the older people with Excel functions, what motivates you to work hard?

Kara: Watching my name climb the sales charts has been inspiring, but helping new customers set up programs that will truly benefit them keeps me in the game.

Thanks for keeping us young, Kara!

We’ve Joined the Two-Sides Network!


Strickland Companies Joins Two Sides

Submitted by: Pamela Watters 08/25/2014


Two Sides North America Press Release


CHICAGO (August 25, 2014) – Strickland Companies has joined Two Sides North America, the non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper.

“We are very pleased to have Strickland Companies join our organization and look forward to working with them to promote the many benefits provided by the use of sustainably produced print and paper,” says Two Sides North America President Phil Riebel.

“Strickland Companies is delighted to join Two Sides. At Strickland, we very much embrace the mission of addressing the issues of sustainability in the Paper and Forest Products industry with straight forward facts and transparency,” says Bayard Tynes, President, Strickland Companies.

About Strickland Companies

Since 1928, Strickland Companies has been a leader in innovative paper products and services. We have six locations that represent and distribute products for hundreds of manufacturers throughout the Southeast. Still privately owned and rapidly growing, our services have expanded to include: fine paper, flexible packaging, business products, furniture and facility supplies. Strickland Companies is proud to be a charter member of the Association of Independent Printing Paper Merchants as well as a member of Afflink and Trimega.  For more information please visit the Strickland Companies website

About Two Sides

Two Sides is an independent, non-profit organization created to promote the responsible production, use and sustainability of print and paper.  Two Sides is active globally in North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa and Brazil.  Our members span the entire print and paper value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, inks and chemicals, pre-press, press, finishing, publishing, printing, envelopes and postal operators.  For more information about Two Sides North America, please contact Phil Riebel at 1-855-896-7433 or, or visit the Two Sides website at


Myths and Facts: When it Comes to Paper, Some People Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Paper has been around for more than 2000 years, and for good reason. It’s a highly effective and versatile means of communication. Even in today’s digital age with the vast array of alternative media to choose from, paper’s unique aesthetic qualifies and practical appeal are unmatched.

Paper is highly sustainable, too. But as attention to the environment has increased in recent years, so have myths and misconceptions that the paper industry is responsible for large-scale deforestation and adverse impacts on the environment. As always, there are two sides to every debate, and paper has a great environmental story to tell.

Two Sides presents the facts about paper production, use and recycling to dispel the myths, promote well-informed, confident media buying decisions and encourage greater responsibility throughout the life of paper products.

To get the facts about the sustainability of Print and Paper click below:

MYTH: Making paper consumers a lot of energy.

FACT: Paper production supports sustainable forest management.

MYTH: Making paper is bad for the environment.

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products.

MYTH: Electronic information is more environmentally friendly than print and paper.

FACT: Not necessarily. E-media also has environmental impacts.


For this article and other paper-truths visit