Chapter Outreach: Making Connections with the help of a Summer Intern in 2021

We have received a $5,000 matching gift from two donors challenging us to create a one-time summer internship in 2021.  After planting thousands of trees in PA and NJ, and many new scientific breakthroughs, we are at a critical juncture. The intern’s primary role will be to connect with the dedicated orchard owners and volunteers across our two states, assess orchard conditions and help us find the best trees for the future.
How Can You Help Us Make This Happen?

Our Chapter Staff and Board of Directors want to double this match to fund a 12-week outreach program to cover wages and travel expenses for a young student. We are asking for your support to match our donor’s generosity and raise $5,000 by May 12th.

Help us make this Spring match:

 Please Donate by May 12th!

Why is this important now? 

Twenty years ago, Ann and Bob Leffel worked with the Duke Stanback Internship program to hire Sara Fitzsimmons as a summer intern.* Her role was to visit and evaluate the many member orchards across Pennsylvania. Since then, orchard outreach has been limited by staff resources. Sara remembers her intern experience fondly and it’s apparent that she never quite recovered from her love of the American chestnut. Today, she is Director of Restoration for TACF and a valued authority on American chestnut restoration. At Sara’s recommendation, the Board is championing a renewal of this position in 2021.

Today, there are over 15,000 hybrid and wild-type American chestnut trees growing in over 100 orchards, restoration projects, and woodland locations. We are seeing great advances in both genomics and breeding for resistance. And, we’ve all been cooped up during the pandemic, making travel and personal connections problematic. Now more than ever is the right time to reach out to growers, assess conditions, and find the best trees. And we would like to give an interested student this unique opportunity to learn about our restoration mission. Because the interns of today may be the leaders of tomorrow.  


Unlike Sara’s journey 20 years ago, social media will allow this intern the opportunity to share their outreach experience with regular posts of photos and stories, so we can follow their progress together.  A full report will be published when the project is complete.   Please help us match the generosity of two donors so that we can fund this critical outreach.

Donate online on our Fundly page.

To donate by check: Make your check payable to PA/NJ TACF and mail it to the PA/NJ Chapter Office:

Pennsylvania State University
206 Forest Resources Lab
University Park, PA 16802

2021 PA/NJ Spring Growers Meeting (SGM) Recordings

If you missed our 2021 Spring Growers Meeting you can catch up with these video recordings. If you have questions please email Jean at

2021 SGM Chapter Meeting and Science and Breeding Priority Update
“Conservation and Restoration of Hemlock Species in the Southern Appalachian Mountains Threatened by the Invasive Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.” presented by Robert Jetton – Associate Professor of Forest Health and Conservation, Dept. of Forestry and Environmental Resources at N.C. State University.

Bringing Back Pollination Activities

In preparation for the deregulation of the Darling 58, PA/NJTACF will be organizing several controlled pollination workshops this summer. The workshop schedule for the end of June will be posted soon and will include workshops in New Jersey, Eastern PA, and Penn State. Would you be interested in participating? Sign up here. We will email you as soon as the dates and locations are confirmed.

In the meantime, we are seeking volunteers to assist with our preparation here at Penn State, May 21st and 24th. For more details, please download this flyer.

For more background on why we are focused on controlled pollination check out Sara Fitzsimmons article “Bringing Back Pollination Activities in the PA/NJ Chapter” from our 2021 Spring print newsletter The Chestnut Tree. Link to article. Or watch this video recording of the TACF Chestnut Chat from July 2020.

Happy 10 Year Anniversary to the Merry One!

Mike and Kieu Manes recently returned to visit the Merry One — a wild-type American chestnut that they first discovered in New Jersey, back in 2011. Their tracking of this tree was reported in TACF’s Chestnut Magazine, in the Winter issue of 2018.

It will be ten years this November that Mike and Kieu have been tracking the Merry One and it has gone from 39” circumference = 12.5” DBH, to 55.125” circumference = 17.5 DBH. . So 16” circumference growth =  5” diameter growth which is > 0.5” DBH/Year – pretty good for a wild tree!

DBH stands for Diameter at Breast Height. Learn more here

Many thanks to Mike and Kieu Manes for their dedicated monitoring of this and many other wild-type American trees in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

March 2021 – Online Events

Friday, March 19th (11:30 AM – 1:00 PM)

TACF Chestnut Chat: Exploring Big Questions for American Chestnut Restoration

Our guests will be Evelyn Brister, Professor in Philosophy of Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and Katie Barnhill-Dilling, Postdoctoral Research Scholar at North Carolina State University. 

We will explore big questions, such as what makes a native plant native? Why is American chestnut restoration important? Who and what will benefit from the tree’s restoration? We will tackle questions associated with American chestnut restoration and other restoration projects.

Tuesday, March 23rd (6:00 – 7:00 PM)

SPRING 2021 ONE HEALTH SEMINAR SERIES_American Chestnut Restoration: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of the American Chestnut in the Eastern ForestPresentation by Mary Ayres, Past President of PA/NJ TACF

Description: Hosted by Delaware Valley University This presentation will review the history of the American chestnut, and describe the latest scientific approaches being used to breed a genetically diverse, locally adapted blight-resistant American chestnut to be re-established as a keystone species in the eastern forest. 

Join Via Zoom:

For more information:

Tuesday, March 23rd (7:00 – 8:00 PM)

Vermont Chapter of PSU Alumni Association Speaker Series_American Chestnut Restoration: The Vermont Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association will feature Sara Fitzsimmons, Director of Restoration for TACF, and Kendra Collins, Regional Science Coordinator for New England Region in their Zoom Speaker Series. Free and open to the public. 

No registration required:
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Password: 022045

 Or iPhone one-tap (US Toll): +16468769923,93740967154# or +13017158592,93740967154#
 Or Telephone:

+1 646 876 9923 (US Toll)
+1 301 715 8592 (US Toll)
 +1 312 626 6799 (US Toll)
+1 669 900 6833 (US Toll)
+1 253 215 8782 (US Toll)
 +1 346 248 7799 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 937 4096 7154
Password: 022045


Introduction to the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) — Online Course Available

An online interactive course on the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) has been developed by Stacy Clark, Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station.

The course is available for free to anyone through a simple registration process. The learner will be introduced to the basic ecology and silvics, historical significance, and the demise of the tree species that once occupied 200 million acres in the eastern United States. The course contains a glossary and links to dendrology tables, external webpages, and published scientific papers.

A certificate of completion available at the end of the course qualifies for 1 CFE credit with the Society of American Foresters.

Please visit this website (