Amy Shields will be stepping into the role of AHUG Executive Director, beginning January 1, 2020.  She has been an active AHUG board member since the 1990’s and has served the board in various capacities, including Board President, and Vice President as well as numerous committee assignments.   Amy started her career in wood products in 1992, joining her family’s sawmill business, St. Marys Lumber Company, Inc. as an accountant.  In 2006, their firm was acquired by Bingaman & Son Lumber, Inc, where she served in a similar capacity until assuming the role of Controller of Sawmill Operations for the company’s three sawmill locations (St Marys, Mill Hall and Nicktown, PA).

Amy is a passionate advocate of the PA hardwood industry and has long served as a member of AHUG’s education committee.  She has presented numerous “Project Learning Tree” programs to youth across the AHUG region, and developed a program entitled, “There’s a Future In Our Forests”, which has been used in AHUG’s educational programs for many years to highlight the wide variety of career paths available within our industry.  Amy administered the AHUG Wood & Lumber Industry Partnership, which led to the development of a hardwood career-awareness video and an industry skills gap analysis.  She also coordinated the offering of several industry training programs, including the HW Buck Log Bucking short course, a Penn State Supervisory Management program, an Electrical Troubleshooting program, a kiln operator course and a “full course” NHLA lumber grading training program (in conjunction with NHLA, Clarion University and KCEC).


Amy has served on the board of directors for the Lumber Heritage Region and the PA Forest Products Association, and is also a member of the Green Ribbon Task Force Subcommittee on Working Forest Conservation Easements. She holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Indiana University of PA, and is a member of the St. Marys Public Library’s board of directors.  She has previously served on the board of the Community Education Council of Elk & Cameron Counties and the St Marys Area Chamber of Commerce.


Amy and her husband, Bob reside in St Marys.  They have three children, Tyler, Dylan and Gabrielle, and one grandchild (with second on the way!).

Forty-five members of the Allegheny Forest Health Collaborative (AFHC) met on September 25, 2019 at the Ridgway Municipal Building to discuss accomplishments and to plan work for 2020. Most of the day was spent in breakout groups, organized by existing working groups (Silviculture, Research, Monitoring, Non-Native Invasive Species, and Communications) and proposed working groups (Changing Timber Markets, Geospatial Data Sharing, and Aesthetics and Multi-Modal Corridors). Wayne Bender, Pennsylvania Hardwood Development Council, presented an overview of the current trends in the statewide timber markets.

The Collaborative made significant progress in 2019, including coordinated monitoring, mapping, and grant proposal development for invasive species management across five counties in Pennsylvania and New York; an index tool for prioritizing forest stands for treatment based on forest health considerations; a decision-support strategy for matching specific treatments to stands based on forest health conditions; and a series of articles highlighting the work of the Collaborative in Pennsylvania Forests magazine.

Work in 2020 will include further refinement of all of these efforts; better sharing of geospatial data across boundaries to coordinate forest health treatments; new efforts to address aesthetics and safety issues across landownerships; expanded communications efforts; and possible work toward a research cooperative for the region. The research breakout group also generated a list of broad research needs for the region.

Follow the Collaborative on Facebook for updates throughout the year (@AlleghenyForestHealthCollaborative) or better yet, join the group! Email if you’d like to join.





The U.S. hardwood industry is facing significant change driven by a variety of factors, including stiff competition from wood look-alike products, relentless misleading campaigns about the sustainability of wood products, a slowing world economy, and the ongoing U.S. trade war with China.  Markets are shrinking and businesses face an uncertain future.


And while the industry has a powerful story to tell…the beauty and desirability of the products, the history of the industry, the small family business focus, the sustainability of our raw material, and the environmental and health benefits of using hardwood; it has not yet been successful in developing a coordinated and collaborative domestic initiative to effectively tell this story and communicate the science-based benefits of real American hardwood products.  This has allowed competitors and adversaries to frame public opinion and gain the advantage.


Thus, in early 2019, a small group of hardwood association executives, energized by the success of their joint effort on the Hardwood Economic Impact Study, came together to brainstorm ideas and approaches for a voluntary industry-wide promotion initiative. Of top priority – transparency – moving forward in a way that engages all members of the hardwood community. Receiving input and recognizing the differences of the many industry segments is essential to develop a clear, concise and overarching brand statement that can be echoed throughout the supply chain.


This brainstorming session led to the following framework of goals and objectives:

*Establish a unified hardwood promotion program directed at domestic consumers, specifiers, educators, influencers and end-users with a launch date of spring 2020.

*Bring other association executives to the table and build on the enthusiasm that has been generated thus far.

*Continue to identify steps and deliverables vital in developing a coordinated and collaborative initiative to promote the true story and science-based benefits of real American hardwood.  A successful program will:

*Educate consumers and raise public awareness to the benefits of real American hardwood;

*Generate new products;

*Increase markets and sales;

*Improve industry stability.


Following the development of these general guidelines, an invitation was extended to 30+ executives of hardwood industry organizations and associations – local, state, regional and national, no matter the size – to further the conversation, establish consensus, develop an action plan and move forward with implementation.


The focus at present is to capitalize on the expertise and skillfulness of the many hardwood association executives who manage diverse priorities and expectations on a daily basis.  Going forward, and once a solid foundation is established, the effort will be expanded to welcome individuals and hardwood businesses.