Collier Journalism Award

The John M. Collier Award for Forest History Journalism is given to a journalist whose work incorporates forest or conservation history in an article or series of articles published in North America that relate to environmental issues. John M. Collier, a longtime journalist who covered the forest industry, represented the best of the profession with thorough research, solid interpretation, and clear writing throughout his career. The award seeks to honor his work and memory by recognizing journalists who carry on his tradition of excellence.

Award Details

The Collier Award is open to any newspaper or general circulation magazine (including online-only publications), or professional or freelance journalist in North America. An original printed piece (photocopies are acceptable) or an electronic version of the nominated article(s) from 2022 publications must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2023. Author, publisher, and date of article must be included. Authors, editors, and the general public are welcome to send any article that fits the award criteria to the Forest History Society. Hard copy versions may be sent to Andrea Anderson at 2925 Academy Road, Durham, NC, 27705, and electronic submissions to:

The winning article will receive a $1,000 prize along with the option to either visit the Forest History Society Library and Archives or arrange for the presentation of the award plaque at a mutually agreed upon meeting or convention.

Award History

John M. Collier (1921–1987) was a New Orleans journalist skilled in many areas of communication, including advertising and sales promotion and public, government, and media relations. He was a working scholar and a prolific writer of articles and special features for forest industry press publications. A member of the Forest History Society’s board of directors (1979-1985), the board established the award to honor his memory after his untimely death to encourage excellence in journalism that incorporates and informs forest and conservation history.

From its establishment in 1987 through the year 2002, the Collier Award annually recognized the author of the best article or series of articles on forest and conservation history. In 2002, FHS redesigned the award to better reach the growing number of journalists writing about conservation and environmental topics. We provided financial support for an Institutes for Journalism in Natural Resources (IJNR) expedition along with a paid visit to the FHS headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, for the selected winner. The award returned to its original implementation beginning in 2015.

Recent Recipients


Agostino Petroni is a freelance journalist and author living in Apulia, Italy. He is a 2020 MA-Politics graduate from the Columbia Journalism School and a 2021 Pulitzer Center Climate Science Reporting Fellow. His work has appeared in numerous outlets including the BBC, CNN Travel, Revista Época, MSN Canada, The Washington Post, National Geographic, NPR, PBS, The Atlantic, Fortune, Scientific American, Salon, Popular Science, Atlas Obscura, Mongabay, The Nation, Discover Magazine, and many others. His article, “Death by Many Cuts” was published in the 2021 Autumn issue of Earth Island Journal. It tells the story of how ancient olive trees in the Puglia region of Italy are being killed by a deadly bacteria, xylella fastidiosa, which obstructs nutrients and water from flowing through their vascular tissues.


Gabriel Popkin is an independent journalist from Mount Rainier, Maryland, covering science, the environment, and society. His work has been published in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Nature, Science, the Washington Post, the Washington Post Magazine, American Forests, National Geographic, NPR, the Atlantic, Discover, and many more. His winning article, "Can Genetic Engineering Bring Back the American Chestnut?," was published on April 30, 2020 (online) by New York Times Magazine and tells the story of an attempt through genetic engineering to rescue the great American Chestnut tree which was all but wiped out by 1940.


Diana Kruzman, a freelance reporter earning her Master's in Journalism and Near East Studies at New York University. Her article, "India's Sacred Groves Are Disappearing, Taking Biodiversity and Culture With Them" was published online November 30, 2019, by Earther, tells the story of the loss of small and increasingly isolated sacred old growth groves of southern India and their gradual destruction due to competing interests.


Adrian Higgins, a gardening columnist for The Washington Post, has specialized in writing about gardening, landscape architecture, and related environmental areas. His winning article, "Scientists though they had created the perfect tree. But it became a nightmare," was published in the September 17, 2018, issue of The Washington Post Magazine. It traces the history of the Bradford pear tree, from the time its progenitor was introduced to the United States from China around 1918 to the present.


Carson Vaughan, a freelance writer from Nebraska whose work has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Vice, Smithsonian, Slate, Audubon, and more, is the 2018 winner. His entry, "Uprooting FDR's 'Great Wall of Trees'" was published online on the Food & Environmental Reporting Network ( on November 1, 2017.


Timothy A. Schuler, editor of and frequent contributor to Landscape Architecture Magazine’s NOW section, is the 2017 winner of the Collier Award. His article, “Searching for a Sign: Inside the Battle to Document and Save Old Trees That May Have Once Marked Native American Trails” was published in the November 2016 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.


Phil McKenna, a freelance journalist focusing on energy and the environment, won the 2016 Collier Award. His piece was co-published as "Life in the Death Zone" at NOVA Next and as "The Boys Who Loved Birds" at The Big Roundtable in February 2015. McKenna's article tells the epic story of two nature-loving friends on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain, and the ongoing transformation of the Iron Curtain’s "death zone" into a European Green Belt.


Michael Gaige, a freelance conservation biologist and educator based in Saratoga Lake, New York, won the 2015 Collier Award. His article, "Wolf Trees: Elders of the Eastern Forest," was published in American Forests. The article tells the story of relict "wolf trees," a term used by early twentieth-century foresters to describe undesirable old shade trees that spread like wolves and "preyed" upon forest resources needed by more marketable species.


Michael Jamison, a Flathead Valley bureau reporter for the Missoulian (circulation 300,000) since 1997, won the 2009 Collier Award. With a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in journalism, both from the University of Montana, he is a general-assignment reporter who must gather all kinds of news in a large geographic territory that includes Plum Creek Timber, Glacier National Park, the U.S. Forest Service, and Flathead National Forest. Over the years, Jamison has had a strong, sustained interest in covering forests and their history, ecology, and management.


Jeffrey Barnard from Grants Pass, Oregon is the southern Oregon correspondent for the Associated Press, having worked for the AP since 1983. He is responsible for stories and photos of general interest in southern Oregon, with a particular focus on the environment. He was named first AP state environmental writer, 2003. His longstanding areas of coverage include salmon restoration, forests management, wildfire, Klamath Basin water, and commercial fishing.


Michelle Nijhuis is a contributing editor of the environmental journal High Country News and a correspondent for Orion, and her work has appeared in publications including Smithsonian,, The Christian Science Monitor, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Sierra, Audubon, and the anthology Best American Science Writing. She wrote an engaging and informative history of dendrochronology (tree-ring research) for High Country News (Jan. 24, 2005).


Zachary Coile, a Washington correspondent for the San Francisco Chronicle, won the 2004 Collier Award. Coile regularly pursues stories related to natural resource issues and has recently been writing about forest thinning practices and mill operations in the Tongass National Forest of Alaska—work that directly resulted from his FHS-sponsored attendance at the IJNR Midnight Sun Institute held in Alaska in July 2003. FHS congratulates him for demonstrating a serious interest in forest and conservation issues and for showing outstanding professional growth in journalism.


The 2003 Collier Award went to Isak Howell, a staff writer for the Roanoke Times (Roanoke, Virginia) who covers news and features about a local municipal government while also pursuing stories about environmental and natural resource issues. Howell works with his editors to ensure the newspaper maintains cohesive natural resource coverage. He has authored news stories on such topics as water quality and management, forest planning on the Jefferson National Forest, outbreaks of gypsy moth infestations, and severe drought conditions in western Virginia. He attended the IJNR Low Country Institute held in 2002.