Aaron Burmeister’s passion for sustainable forestry and logging goes back to his high school days when he cut and sold firewood to his teachers. In the 1980s he bought his own land- 5.5 acres of hayfield- that he planted with red and white pine and walnut, with the intention of growing the pines to train the walnut.
Aaron became involved with WWOA because of conversations and involvement in forest with a past member, the late Jim Ring. He was invited by Jim to attend the Annual Meeting in Green Bay that year. Enjoying the organization so much, he decided to purchase a life membership with WWOA in 1994.
“I wanted to help out WWOA more than anything,” Aaron explains. “It’s a great organization that does a lot of good for public outreach and private landowners.”
Burmeister works as a logger in the Fox Valley area. “I want to see the woodlands do well. It’s like Aldo Leopold said, you need all the pieces for something to work. There’s not one aspect of the forest that I’m more interested in than others. Everything is important.”
Aaron spent 20 years as a program coordinator of the Wolf River Chapter of WWOA. He enjoyed being active with the chapter as he got to know other people better and they him. He says: “You don’t start out knowing everyone, but that’s why it’s important to be an active member. Over time people get to know you and your philosophy and vice versa.”
Besides serving on the Wolf River Chapter board in the past, Aaron volunteers to spread WWOA’s word and mission at other landowner-focused groups and events. In 2017, he brought his timber processor to Shawano County’s breakfast on the farm event to spread public awareness of sustainable forestry. He works closely with the Outagamie County Farm Bureau, as well.
Aaron is also very active with the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA), and presently serves on their board of directors. As part of GLTPA, Aaron participates in the Log-A-Load® event that invites students from local schools to attend and learn at a live logging demonstration. The funds from the demonstrative timber sale are donated to the Children’s Miracle Network.
Aaron enjoys any opportunity to teach and spread awareness about sustainable forest management, including at field days, which are his favorite WWOA activity. He enjoys the social atmosphere of the events and being able to mingle with the guest speakers and other members, while also promoting public awareness of good forestry practices.
Aaron encourages new members: “Use the information you gain. Don’t sign up to just make someone happy. WWOA is full of great resources to help you.” He has found being an active member has helped him make new connections, learn what he needs to sustainably manage his woodlands, and share his passion for sustainable forestry.
When he isn’t working or volunteering, Aaron likes to bow hunt, as he enjoys the peace and quiet of walking through the woods. He also loves to spend time with his grandson, Tim, nicknamed “Tim-bur.”
Aaron shares a favorite memory from his woodlands; when they first planted their trees, Aaron and his helpers took a break and ate a few apples. They planted two of the cores and now, 30 years later, two crabapple trees have appeared in that place. Aaron laughs and describes the bizarre situation as a fun reminder of all the work they put in to create the wonderful woodlands they now have.