Speakers and Presentation Descriptions

2023 Spring Growers Meeting

Rick Hartlieb
Assistant District Forester (DCNR), Owner Castanea Farms

Good, Bad, and Ugly of planting chestnut trees. Learn about the success and failures of planting trees in naturalized forests, and orchard settings. Experience in projects planted since 2005 will be shared to allow growers to learn from our highlights and difficulties.

Rick has served on the PA/NJ Chapter Board since 2018 and currently serves as President. He has been a forester with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources PA-DCNR, in the William Penn District for fourteen years. Since 2018, his family has been farming chestnuts commercially, recently bumping up production to 50 acres in 2 states.

Jen Santoro
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Geography and the Environment
Villanova University 

GIS Modeling for American Chestnut Site Suitability

Jen will talk about her research modeling suitable sites for planting American chestnut trees in Pennsylvania and the factors that influence good planting locations. She will discuss how these GIS models can be applied to specific sites in the Mid-Atlantic region and how growers can use the model results to make planting decisions.

Jen is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at Villanova University, where she teaches GIS classes. She earned her Ph.D. in Applied Forest Ecology from the University of Vermont. Her research focuses on using geospatial analysis and statistics to understand patterns and trends in forested ecosystems, especially in the face of a changing climate. Jen was a 2013 TACF summer intern and a decade later, she still loves chestnut trees! 

Sara Fern Fitzsimmons
Chief Conservation Officer for The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) at Penn State University (PSU)

Pollination, Harvest, and Storage of Chestnuts

If you want to help diversify for Darling 58 scale-up and distribution, come learn how to control pollinate, harvest, and store chestnuts in this short workshop. We encourage all attendees to follow up with in-field training in the summer.

Sara Fern Fitzsimmons has worked with The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) at Penn State University (PSU) since 2003, assisting chestnut growers and researchers throughout the Appalachian Mountains.  Born and raised in southern West Virginia (Hinton), Sara studied Biology at Drew University in Madison, NJ.  She then received a Master’s degree in forest ecology and resource management from Duke University’s Nicholas School.  After a short stint as an editorial assistant at All About Beer Magazine, Sara returned to the forestry field, where she has been ever since. Sara hopes her research and professional work will facilitate the long-term conservation and restoration of native tree species at risk from exotic pests and diseases.

Following the presentations at the Barron Innovation Hub (~ 2:30 PM )– Attendees are invited to join us for a tour of our research orchard and greenhouse.

Stephen Hoy (Goes by Hoy)
Orchard Manager/Research Technician PA/NJ Chapter of TACF

Greenhouse and Orchard Tour

Tour the chestnut greenhouse and hear about the advancements being made in the propagation and speed of breeding of D58 chestnut seedlings. Afterward, follow us to the Arboretum backcross orchards to see how our work is progressing and learn about the future uses of these trees as well as the orchard space overall.

A PA native, Hoy coincidentally grew up on Chestnut Street in Centre County. He studied Forestry at Penn State Mont Alto before migrating to Colorado for close to a decade. Hoy has been with the PA/NJ Chapter since 2014. A major focus for him is to continue improving the health and efficiency of seedlings being propagated in the greenhouses, as, well as grafting and speed breeding.