Ken Miller, AgForestry Class 22

Ken & Bonnie at their Washington State Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year sign. It also serves as educational outreach on forestry issues for hikers from the adjacent Millersylvania State Park.
Ken and Bonnie with fellow AgForestry alum Chief Vicki Christiansen (Class 12), US Forest Service.
Ken sharing forestry lessons with his grandkids.
Ken and Bonnie met in first grade, where they quickly became sweethearts. They’ve now been married over 55 years and have shared their love of the forest and nature with their kids and grandkids. Part of the Miller’s farm in Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties neighbor the popular Millersylvania State Park. This gives the Millers a unique opportunity to easily host visitors for farm tours and to educate on the importance of SFLOs in Washington State.
“Since graduation I think I’ve evolved from a supporter/advocate to an activist for SFLOs – some of the finest people you could ever want to meet. We give a lot of tours on our farm to anyone wanting to see what we do – which means they also have to see or listen to a long list of issues that preclude/discourage the next generation working to keep our land forested. We’ve even hosted a tour/sit-down discussion with a delegation of Japanese Legislators wanting to understand US SFLOs in order to better serve their own – scary at first but turned out to be interesting and fun.” Click here to read the full article about the Japanese legislators visit.
Ken says they were pretty naïve about the real costs of growing timber. In addition, to the high cost of the land, they have found numerous other expenses, including the planting of over 40,000 seedlings, controlling the brush so that those seedlings can survive, controlling deer and other animal damage, and general maintenance expenses – and thousands of hours of free labor/exercise. Dealing with these daily tasks and various legislative challenges has led Ken to be a voice for Washington State SFLOs.
“I remember being terrified trying to talk in Senator Murray’s office during our Class visit to DC with couple of my braver classmates. I’ve been back to DC a few times since helping Tree Farm and the American Forest Foundation with personal visits to my legislators. I regularly testify on behalf of my industry and peers at our state’s Forest Practice Board, the Fish and Wildlife Commission, and at our State Legislature – I still get scared but I can do what wasn’t possible before AgForestry motivated me to get more involved.”
“One of our Class graduation speakers talked about not taking on too many issues – I didn’t pay close enough attention – but did tend to focus on just my own community of SFLO issues, and at 77 I’m still learning how to say “no!” Caring too much is sometimes a bad thing. I go to a lot of Olympia meetings regarding forestry and a few other natural resource events – rarely without seeing someone that is part of our larger family of AgForestry graduates all proactively supporting our own industry, or sometimes just fending something off so we don’t become lunch for someone else’s interest.”
Using a periodic harvest schedule allows the Miller’s to keep their land sustainably forested and undeveloped. Their long-term goal is to periodically harvest 10-15 acre plots. Work on the farm is mostly a family affair in hopes of providing their city-grown grandkids and great grandkids with a work ethic and a love of the outdoors. Perhaps one of them will continue the Miller’s labor of love?
“I think AgForestry helped my collaborative skills (still needing work) – putting one’s self in others shoes helps: understanding; focus on the real issues; and sometimes finding more win-win’s. I’ve even found myself really liking and respecting folks on the other side of my issues – even if they still remain all screwed up despite my best efforts.😊
“AgForestry has helped me to develop the types of close relationships/friends that will sometimes tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear – real friends aren’t afraid to give constructive feedback!”