Alumni Spotlight: Ellen Lois Hooven (1924-2016)

by Karl Wirsing/SEFS

Seventy-two years ago, a young woman named Ellen Lois Johnson arrived on the University of Washington (UW) campus to begin her undergraduate studies. She didn’t realize it when she applied, but Ellen would be one of the first two women ever enrolled in the College of Forestry—now the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences—and four years later, in 1948, she would become the very first to earn an undergraduate forestry degree from UW.

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Ellen attended Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane, where she first learned about the College of Forestry. “I had read about [the forestry program],” she said. “They had books on different professions, and forestry sounded like it was very interesting, so that’s what I decided to do.”

After she finished school, Ellen ended up marrying and having five children with one of her forestry classmates, Ed Hooven. They eventually settled in Corvallis, Ore., and both worked for many years at Oregon State University—Ed as a professor and forest wildlife ecologist until he passed away in 1978, and Ellen as an assistant to the manager of the College of Forestry’s McDonald-Dunn Research Forest.

Last month, on December 5, 2016, Ellen passed away a couple weeks shy of her 92nd birthday. We were enormously grateful to have had a chance to catch up with her the previous year, and some of her memories of college—nearly 70 years after graduation—were still as poignant as the day she got tossed into Frosh Pond on Garb Day.

Bucking Tradition
Ellen grew up in Spokane, Wash., and started school during an era of tremendous change. The country had been at war for several years, and many of her new classmates were World War II soldiers taking advantage of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, known as the G.I. Bill. It provided, among other benefits, cash payments for tuition and living expenses for returning veterans. “All those fellows coming back from the service were quite a shock to the professors,” said Ellen. “They were used to having classes full of little high school graduates, but here were these seasoned veterans. In one of my classes, the professor came in and started talking about the weather, and a voice came from the back of the room, ‘Cut out the baloney and start teaching.’ Those veterans wanted to get in there and get going and get on with their lives!”

2015_04_Hooven3The professors and students in the College of Forestry were also adjusting to the first two women among their ranks. Ellen had enrolled at the same time as one other female student, but her classmate later transferred to a different school. The next year, though, another young woman, Priscilla Lewis, joined the program, and it took a little while to integrate them fully into the system. Priscilla, for instance, had to lobby to be allowed to participate on a field trip with her male classmates (“Coed Wins Equality; Will Accompany Boys on Trip,” wrote The Daily), and she would later join Ellen as a charter member of a women’s group (“Forestry and Engineering Fems Unite”) that formed to provide support to women in male-dominated fields.

Some challenges of being a female student were less curricular in nature. While studying down at Pack Forest one quarter, Ellen remembers a brazen professor who actually propositioned her, offering her a good grade if she’d spend the night with him. “I was so flabbergasted, so I said the first thing that popped into my head, which was to say that would be too hard.”

That kind of behavior was definitely the anomaly, says Ellen, and she survived the class without further incident—though maybe not without penalty. “I had been getting A’s and B’s, but I got a C out of the course. That was pretty nasty.”

Scraps of History
Throughout her time as an undergrad, Ellen kept a scrapbook and collected scores of handwritten notes, programs, flyers and newspaper clippings from The Daily, including the headlines quoted above. One of her daughters, Louisa Hooven, recently scanned and made digital records of those pages, and the photos and headlines capture powerful scenes from campus life in the mid-1940s—frozen moments that feel as fresh and immediate as the day they were published.

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Lois, above, experiences some of the ‘rough’ treatment of Garb Day festivities. Though men showed their stuff by growing a beard that week, the “Coed Beardless,” one article advertised, “will have a chance to show their skill when they take part in the cigarette rolling contest.”

Ellen saved articles that cover everything from news from the war (“Jap Attack on U.S. Not Wanted”) to a humorous campus advice column (“Cleo’s Campus Clinic: for problems of the heart, mind and conscience”); and from school activities (“650 Coeds Pledged in Record Rushing Week”) to social news (“Jeanne Simmons, Navy Man Engaged”). There are scribbled notes, including invites to pledge at several sororities (Ellen accepted at Delta Zeta), and a program for a local production, “Khyber Pass,” a “dramatic operetta” staged by the Associated Students of the University of Washington in cooperation with the School of Music and School of Drama.

Also prominently featured are campus stories about the annual Garb Day festivities and shenanigans, which Ellen and Priscilla experienced firsthand. Back then, the celebration lasted a full week and included several notorious events and traditions, from logger sports and logrolling in Frosh Pond (now Drumheller Foundation), to the culminating dance—known as the “Loggers’ Brawl”—in the Forest Club Room of Anderson Hall. During the week, forestry students were required to grow a beard by the time of the dance or risk getting tossed into Frosh Pond. Ellen, of course, had a rather unfair disadvantage, but that didn’t spare her a dunking. “It was a beard-growing contest,” she said, “and of course I lost that one, so I got thrown into the pond. All in good fun!”

She didn’t go down alone, though. Ellen grabbed onto the wrist of the boy who pushed her in and dragged him right in with her. Priscilla wasn’t quite so lucky when she arrived the next year. The Daily was on hand for her dip into Frosh Pond and recorded the moment—and the annoyance in her expression (captured below)—with a big photo and story, “College of Forestry Girl Student Pays Penalty for No Beard.”

2015_04_Hooven4Captured among Ellen’s clippings, as well, is her budding romance with Ed. They met on the first day of class when Ed sat a row in front of her, and soon their names started appearing together in print.

In one short article, “Forestry Club Holds Elections,” the new officers of the Forestry Club—now the Forest Club—are announced, including Ellen as secretary and Ed as treasurer. Then, when Garb Day rolled around, a story noted that the two had teamed up for the double bucking contest. “My husband-to-be was on the other end of a crosscut saw, and the contest was to see who could saw through a log the fastest,” she said. “We didn’t do all that well.”

For the History Books
“That’s been a long time ago,” said Ellen, yet her story is still as vibrant and important as the day she first stepped onto campus. She helped open a door through which thousands of women have since followed, and today more than 50 percent of students at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences are now women.

That’s quite a change—and quite a legacy—for Ellen’s pioneering role in our history.

Photos and clippings © Courtesy of Louisa Hooven and The Daily.

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Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Gellermann

A few years ago, Helene Fowler inherited the unpublished manuscript of her late uncle’s autobiography, The Book of Daniel. Its author, our alumnus Daniel Gellermann (’39, B.S.), passed away on October 3, 2012, less than a month shy of his 96th birthday. He had transferred to the College of Forestry in 1935 and then went on to a long career in forestry in California from 1940 through the late 1960s—including stints with the Consolidated Timber Company, U.S. Forest Service and Setzer Forest Products—and we were hugely grateful to Helene for sharing the text with us.

Daniel, in a photo dated 1937, two years before he graduated from the University of Washington.

Daniel, in a photo dated 1937, two years before he graduated from the University of Washington.

The printed manuscript is dated 1987, and it’s an incredibly detailed, nearly week-by-week account of his life, from as early as he can remember up through school, work, family and retirement. Within that narrative, Daniel dedicates about 20 pages to his time as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, and his writing style opens an intimate and unvarnished window into his thoughts and experiences as a student in the 1930s. We wanted to pull out and share a few lines and memories that especially stood out to us, including the entirety of his great introduction!

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Introduction

“Writing a life story is really a series of hits and misses, inclusions and exclusions, remembereds and forgottens—simply a subjective cross-section of one’s time on this mortal coil. I do have the advantage of being the sole survivor of my generation of Gellermanns, and so I can make it up as I go along. In the process of recall my memory has moved back and forth in time amid parents, siblings, classmates, playmates, church, school, friends, coworkers, jobs, towns, forests, homes, and thoughts and opinions and precepts and attitudes; this is obviously reflected in this account.

It seems to me that for most of us life comprises the early years, a time for education and the pursuit of knowledge; the middle years, a time for occupation and the pursuit of experience; and the retirement years, a time for contemplation and the pursuit of wisdom. I believe we all have our ups and downs and that life balances out for most of us; I have been fortunate in that my down years were my early years and my life’s curve has been on a steady upswing ever since.

Money was always tight for Daniel as a student, so he carried a paper route—first for the Seattle Times, and later a double route for the Post-Intelligencer, that earned him $40 to 50 a month.

Money was always tight for Daniel as a student, so he carried a paper route—first for the Seattle Times, and later a double route for the Post-Intelligencer, that earned him $40 to 50 a month.

My first marriage provided me an education in the liberal arts; my second marriage afforded me an education in the fine arts. I am grateful for both. And I am indeed thankful I could have a handsome and strong and bright son. Life has been good to me.

From here on out my time will be occupied with continued scribbling. I have quotations—some three thousand—to assemble in book form, a book of personal precepts and opinions, and other various essays yet to prepare.

My anagram can provide my epitaph: Deign All Men Learn.”

Time at the College of Forestry
“In the fall of 1935 I transferred to the College of Forestry at the University of Washington and a whole new world seemed to open up to me. The college had a great tradition and there was a comeraderie among the “foresters” that gave us an identity. We were given to understand at the outset that the curriculum was strenuous and that our physical and mental energies would be taxed to the limit; subsequently they were. We were told to take a look at our fellow students both to our left and to our right; the odds were that only one of three of us would be on hand to graduate four years hence. And that is the way it worked out.”

“The Foresters had a blind date dance with the Nurses each year. I could only look with envy at the signup list on the bulletin board since I knew not how to dance and I was too timid to even meet a girl.”

“My two best friends in forestry college were John Connell and Robert Myer … Sad to say, John’s success never quite met his ambitions, so he has never been able to relax and enjoy it. In his later years he has sought refuge in religion; for what good that may be I know not.”

“Fletcher Daniels was a forestry classmate; his father was Dean of the College of Mines. Fletcher was a seemingly happy-go-lucky sort, but he had a lightning-sharp mind and understood everything the first time around. I admired his quick intelligence. I understand that Fletcher was killed in WWII, so I was never to see him again after our graduation.”

To supplement his studies as an undergrad, Daniel sent for bulletins from the Government Printing Office, and he also subscribed to the West Coast Lumberman.

To supplement his studies as an undergrad, Daniel had sent for bulletins from the Government Printing Office, and he also subscribed to the West Coast Lumberman.

“The Dean of the College of Forestry in the beginning of my time there was Hugo Winkenwerder. He was strictly an armchair forester (I would add that the woods are full of armchair foresters!).”

“Professor Alexander was the one who taught our frosh courses in silviculture and mensuration. His knowledge was considerable, but his talent for teaching was sadly lacking. In addition to being a poor communicator of information he was a patsy for apple-polishing; consequently he graded on the basis of student attitude rather than ability. Intellectual honesty was a worthy trait totally lacking in dear Professor Alexander.”

In 1936, while assisting “a coed in rescuing her car from a mudhole,” Daniel tore ligaments in his knee, which later kept him out of military service. “I reported to Fort Lewis for initial assembly and physical examination but I was rejected on account of my knee injury and sent home; I felt bitter despondency and defeat.”

“I felt fortunate then and ever since to have had Walter H. Meyers for my major professor; he was a gentleman and a scholar.”

“This, my first summer in the brush I had my first taste of sin; i.e., I tasted beer for the first time! It tasted to me a bit like green olives. I very much liked green olives and so I was able to learn to like beer in due time with assiduous practice. The boys took up rolling their own Bull Durham; some gained great proficiency. It was the logger-like thing to do.”

“I was disinterested in cigarette smoking; I had tried that at the age six (dried maple leaves) and again at age twelve (Philip Morris samples) but it didn’t appeal to me; no doubt smoking retained its connotation of sinfulness for me. Eventually I decided that, were I to smoke at all, I would smoke a pipe. And so I tried that. Prince Albert at ten cents a tin was my brand. I acquired a variety of pipes, and in time settled on one with a slightly bent stem which I felt revealed proper sophistication, and enjoyed that from time to time as I wandered about. But it tended to bother my teeth, so I gave up on the entire endeavor and I am glad I did. Some of the boys took to chewing snooze (another loggermania), but I could not even stomach the thought of that for myself.”

“When I went back to school in the fall of 1937, at the start of my junior year in forestry, I was full of piss and vinegar. I had gained weight and strength, and confidence in myself.”

***

Photos © Helene Fowler.

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2016 Pack Forest Summer Crew: Season Recap

For nine weeks this summer, five SEFS undergrads worked as interns down at Pack Forest getting immersive, hands-on field training in sustainable forest management. The students—Paul Albertine, Dana Chapman, Dana Reid, Chris Scelsa and Robert Swan—were part of the annual Pack Forest Summer Crew, and they recently wrapped up another successful season.

2016_09_summer-crew-recap2This year, the students got to work with several SEFS graduate students, as well as Jeff Kelly, the forester at Pack Forest. They participated in a wide range of activities, including a great amount of time measuring 85 permanent forest plots from the Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) project. Doctoral student Emilio Vilanova says they became true field experts and were able to update vital information for the sustainable management of forests at Pack.

Other tasks for the students included assisting Matthew Aghai with his doctoral research, both at Pack Forest and at the Cedar River Watershed, and helping maintain a throughfall exclusion project led by Professor Greg Ettl and doctoral student Kiwoong Lee. They were critical in the upkeep of Pack Forest’s trail network, as well as the measurement of additional small-scale research projects, from regeneration surveys to the installation of other research plots. They also got to take three field trips, including official visits to Rainier Veneer and Silvaseed Company facilities, along with a two-day camping trip to the Cedar River Watershed.

In short, as always, the Pack Forest Summer Crew had an incredibly packed, productive and memorable internship. Take a look at a gallery of photos from their summer!

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

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New Movie, Captain Fantastic, Shot Partly at Pack Forest

This Friday, July 15, moviegoers around Seattle will get their first chance to see Captain Fantastic, a new film starring Viggo Mortensen that is partly set in the old-growth woods of Pack Forest—and shot almost entirely on location in Washington!

2016_07_Captain Fantastic1A drama that challenges the idea of what it means to be a parent, the story tracks a devoted father (Viggo) who has raised his family in isolation—and off the grid—in the forest until a tragedy forces them to leave their secluded paradise and journey into the outside world. Captain Fantastic‘s world premiere was at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival in January, and it won the Golden Space Needle Award for Best Picture at the Seattle International Film Festival earlier this spring.

Starting this Friday, we hope you get a chance to catch the film, and to spot those early scenes set in the gorgeous old-growth stand down at Pack Forest!

Photo of Mortensen below © Bleecker Street.

(Left to right) Nicholas Hamilton stars as Rellian, Annalise Basso as Vespyr, Samantha Isler as Kielyr, George MacKay as Bo, and Viggo Mortensen as their dad Ben in Captain Fantastic. (Credit: Erik Simkins/ Bleecker Street)

From a scene in Captain Fantastic shot in Pack Forest: (left to right) Nicholas Hamilton as Rellian, Annalise Basso as Vespyr, Samantha Isler as Kielyr, George MacKay as Bo, and Viggo Mortensen as their dad Ben. (Credit: Erik Simkins/ Bleecker Street)

 

Pack Forest Summer Crew Gets to Work

Last week, five undergrads embarked on an eight-week internship as part of the annual Pack Forest Summer Crew! For the next two months, these students—Paul Albertine, Dana Chapman, Dana Reid, Chris Scelsa and Robert Swan—will be getting immersive, hands-on field training in sustainable forest management in the 4,300 acres of Pack Forest. They’ll be developing skills from forest mensuration to species identification, working on projects from repairing roads and trails to assisting with research installations, and also taking some field trips. In short, it’s going to be an unforgettable summer for these students!

Take a look at some photos from their first week of action, and we’ll put together a slideshow of their experience at the end of the summer.

Photos © Emilio Vilanova.

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Join the 2016 Pack Forest Summer Crew!

Every summer, a hardy crew of SEFS students heads down to Pack Forest for two months of hands-on field training in sustainable forest management. It’s one of our oldest field traditions, and also one of the most memorable, so take a look at the internship opportunities coming up this summer!

2016_02_Pack Forest Summer Crew2There are up to six internship positions available for the 2016 Summer Quarter at Park Forest, which runs from June 20 to August 19. Each position is eligible for 4 ESRM credit hours (with in-state tuition included), as well as a $200 weekly stipend and free housing in cozy cabins for a summer spent in the shadow of Mount Rainier. Hard to beat!

* Three to five spots are open for Forest Resource Interns, who will assist with the management and stewardship of Pack Forest’s timber resources, research installations, roads and trails. These students will develop forest mensuration skills, practice species identification, participate in research programs, and learn about sustainable forest management.

* One additional position is available for an Outreach & GIS Intern, who will actively participate in public outreach, environmental education and/or GIS applications for natural resource management. This student will develop skills in communications, public outreach, curriculum development and natural resource management.

The deadline to apply has been extended to Wednesday, April 20. If you’re interested, please send your resume and a cover letter describing how the internship will fit into your program of study to Professor Ernesto Alvarado.

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2016 Pack Forest Spring Planting: March 21-25!

For nearly 80 years, SEFS students have been putting down roots at Pack Forest, helping to shape the woods for future generations. This Spring Break, you can leave your own mark by taking part in the annual spring planting, March 21-25, as one of the elite Pack Forest interns!

2016_02_Pack Forest Spring PlantingWhile staying in cozy cabins at Pack Forest—just down the road from Mount Rainier—you’ll get to roll up your sleeves and work on forest establishment, including planting, regeneration surveys and survey reports.

Your housing (and some food) will be covered, there’s a kitchen at your disposal, you’ll earn a $200 stipend, and two course credits are also available. It’s a week of field work and hands-on learning in the daytime, and also a whole lot of fun as you explore the gorgeous 4,300 acres of Pack Forest and hang out with fellow interns in the evenings. Seriously, it’s an unforgettable experience!

The internship is open to undergraduate students (and possibly MFR grad students), and the deadline to apply is Friday, February 19. Contact Professor Ernesto Alvarado at alvarado@uw.edu or 206.616.6920 to learn more and apply.

Need more inspiration? Check out this great video from the 2014 crew!

Tell Us: Favorite Spot on Campus

In the last issue of Roots, our alumni e-newsletter, we asked our graduates: What was your favorite spot on campus—a place to study, to eat lunch, to go for a walk? Here’s what Tara Wilson (’14, B.S.), who is working nearby as a research technologist with the Center for Conservation Biology, shared with us!

Tara Wilson volunteering at "Meet the Mammals" last year.

Tara Wilson volunteering at “Meet the Mammals” last year.

“Favorite spot on campus? Well, I don’t think I could pick just one. There are so many different places that are optimal for different things. First of all, hands down, the best place to go for a walk is the Union Bay Natural Area. Yeah, it’s a bit of a hike to get there but totally worth it! It’s a great place to see beautiful habitat, and I like to practice my bird watching (here I come, savannah sparrow!).

As an undergrad, my favorite place to study and get work done was on the top floors of the Suzzallo and Allen libraries. Along the perimeter there are individual desks with tons of outlets and good lighting. Plus, you’re right next to huge windows, which is always nice to gaze out on our campus for inspiration—or procrastination. Whatever you need at the moment.

Finally, I’m going to throw a curveball and say my ultimate favorite place to be is Pack Forest. Although it’s technically not on our Seattle campus, it is a campus for SEFS. It’s the best place to have lunch, hike and even get work done (yes, there’s even a computer lab there! In the forest!). Pack Forest is a gorgeous place, and I think it’s a hidden gem at UW.”

Photo © Tara Wilson.

Alder Lake Fire Near Pack Forest Grows to 150 Acres

Though nowhere near as large as the wildfires raging in central Washington, a small forest fire near Elbe., Wash., has now grown to more than 150 acres. Lightning sparked the blaze on August 11, and the fire has since spread across steep forested terrain on the south side of Alder Lake—and just south of Park Forest (which remains separated from the fire by a lake and highway).

Approximately 60 firefighters from the Department of Natural Resources and the Forest Service are working on the fire, which is known as the Alder Lake Fire, including dropping water from helicopters. No estimates of containment are available at the moment, but you can track progress and updates through The News Tribune in Tacoma, and on an Alder Lake Fire Twitter feed. Also, if you live locally, nearby residents are invited to learn more about the fire at a community meeting tonight, Tuesday, August 25, at 7 p.m. at the Mineral School’s gymnasium building, 114 Mineral Road S.

Photo © Karl Wirsing/SEFS.

 Shot of the Alder Lake Fire taken from Pack Forest on Monday, August 17, when the fire covered only about 25 to 30 acres.

Shot of the Alder Lake Fire taken from Pack Forest on Monday, August 17, when the fire covered only about 25 to 30 acres.

2015 Pack Forest Spring Planting: Slideshow!

Last week, five SEFS students spent their Spring Break down at Pack Forest as part of the annual spring planting tradition to help with seasonal reforestation work. This year’s group included Anthony Bird, Carolyn Hartman, Will Mooreston, Trey Parry and Rachel Yonemura, and Dave Cass says it was a stellar crew. Their main accomplishments from the week included:

* Replanting a 3-acre harvest unit with nearly 1,000 seedlings;
* Planting 480 seedlings in research trial plots for graduate student Matthew Aghai’s dissertation research; and
* Measuring numerous regeneration plots and rescuing dozens of young cedar trees from becoming an appetizer for deer and elk.

Take a look at a slideshow of their work, and special thanks to Cass and Emilio Vilanova for sharing these great photos!