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Joe SansFeaturello

Joe SansFeaturello


Dereck Warren

Dereck Warren


“I think I was destined to be a forester because I just like it so much.”


Loves his job, dedicated to his community


Dereck Warren is the kind of guy who gives you faith in people while also making you wonder if you’re trying hard enough.  

He’s a diligent worker who’s earned his boss’s respect. He’s a volunteer firefighter. He serves as president of his local Chamber of Commerce in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. He volunteers with the Oklahoma chapter of the Ouachita Society of American Foresters. He’s chairman of the forestry competition for the annual Owa-Chito Festival of the Forest (an event Weyerhaeuser has long supported). He’s leading the effort to restore the educational “Tree Trail” at the Forest Heritage Center outside Broken Bow.
There’s really no question why Dereck has been recognized as Weyerhaeuser’s Volunteer of the Quarter.


Hired out of college 10 years ago, Dereck is a production forester in our Oklahoma timberlands. He and his colleagues work to get the land back into production after harvesting with site prep, tree planting, grass control, pre-commercial thinning, and more.
“I think I was destined to be a forester because I like it so much,” Dereck says. “We work hard, but when I’m in the woods with other foresters I’m just doing something I enjoy.”
“Dereck is completely dependable and dedicated,” says Rick Harder, Oklahoma area manager who nominated Dereck for the volunteer award. “He has a good future with the company.”


Dereck might’ve been destined for forestry, but as a little kid in rural Oklahoma, he wanted to be a firefighter more than anything. This desire actually led him to his profession.
Like many college students, Dereck didn’t know what he wanted to do. He discovered forestry while working a summer job on an engine crew with the U.S. Forest Service. Back at school, he changed programs, graduating with a B.S. in Forestry Management from Oklahoma State University.
Then at his first job in De Queen, Arkansas, and later in Broken Bow, Dereck also started living out his childhood dream of firefighting by volunteering with his local fire departments. 
“I love fighting fires, but we often deal with medical issues,” Dereck says. “Ultimately it's about helping people. There are bad days, but the good ones make you feel like you made a difference.”


It’s that same desire to serve that motivates Dereck to work with the chamber, the forestry festival, his professional organization and everything else.
“I want to be available when and where I can help,” he says.  “I plan on being in this community for a long time, so I want to be the best I can be.”
That giving spirit is in his blood, he says. His mother, who died three years ago, was an inspiration.
“She volunteered more than anybody,” Dereck says. “She wouldn’t hear us say we couldn’t do something.” 

Jessica Homyack and AJ Kroll

Ruth Jensen

Ruth Jensen

Senior GIS Analyst

“I love my job. There’s never an average day. It’s challenging, exciting and intense.”


This multi-dimensional analyst sees what others don't

In a sense, Ruth Jensen is a spatial engineer. Her job as senior GIS analyst for our Mineral Resources Group in Timberlands requires an aptitude for seeing layers and depths not immediately apparent to everyone else, and for visualizing data in three dimensions and more. 

More than an analyst, Ruth is also a master mapmaker and a technology wiz. It all started with a passion for Legos and Indiana Jones movies. 


Your title is senior GIS analyst. What do you do exactly?
GIS stands for geographic information systems. It’s the underlying coding software that links data with geographic reference points in global positioning systems, or GPS. It’s been around since the 1970s and today it’s everywhere. Just look at Google maps or Bing, where you can search for restaurants or other businesses near your location.
My job is to map all the data associated with the 7 million acres in the U.S. where Weyerhaeuser owns mineral rights. These rights include oil, gas, geothermal — anything underneath the trees. For example, when an oil or gas company wants to lease rights in a certain area, I’m responsible for developing the maps that inform our decisions to grant those rights. I tie all the data we have about a specific location together so we can view it spatially.
What led you to choose this job?
I wanted to be an archeologist since third grade, when I first saw an Indiana Jones movie. My undergraduate degree is in archeology from the University of Idaho. During college, we were on a dig site in the Pacific Northwest using GPS to map the location of artifacts. The technology fascinated me. After an intro class, I took enough classes to get a GIS certificate along with my bachelor’s degree. Next, I went to Arizona State and got a master’s degree in GIS. It’s great. Every company uses it, and people are always looking for GIS analysts, unlike archeologists.
What does an average day look like for you?
There’s never really an average day, which is why I love my job. It’s challenging and exciting and intense. We own so many mineral acres that in the morning I might be working on an area in Washington state and in the afternoon, Louisiana. I rarely actually visit them, but, in a manner, I work in many places. When I pull in the aerial photography and other data, I get to see the locations on so many levels. My job is never boring. I’m constantly analyzing data, crunching numbers and making beautiful, informative maps. They include work maps and maps that go with agreements. Twice a year, our geologists go to an oil and gas trade show in Houston to help market our mineral rights, so I make the wall-sized maps for Weyerhaeuser’s booth there.
Do you have a favorite part of your job?
My favorite part is problem solving. I really enjoy figuring things out. As a kid, I loved playing with Legos. If you think about it, they help develop three-dimensional thinking, and that’s what I do on the job by organizing data spatially. I puzzle how things connect to each other, and it all comes together on a map.
How do young people starting their careers learn about what you do?
There’s a nationally recognized, annual GIS Day in the middle of November. For the past several years, I’ve gone to the high school where my mom teaches and talked to four or five classes. We do hands-on mapping exercises and other fun activities. But mostly, I emphasize how it’s a great profession, explain how to get into it and remind the students that GIS is everywhere these days.
You followed a desire you had as a young kid. Did anything else inspire you to choose your career?
Yes. My mom always said, ‘be whatever you want to be.’ So I went for it. She taught me to pursue my dreams and see what happens, see what it turns into. I had no idea I’d wind up in GIS. You never know where your childhood dreams will lead.
Cody Arnold

Cody Arnold

Environmental Engineer

"There's an art to running a marsh. There's always something to learn and new things to try."



A feat of nature improves wastewater treatment at Mississippi pulp mill

It's not every day you might come across deer, beavers, bobcats, coyotes, geese, otters, owls, hawks, egrets, cranes, and even alligators — all in one place. But you just might find these creatures — and many others — on the 66-acre artificial marsh in the backyard of our Cellulose Fibers mill in Columbus, Mississippi. 

The wetland is a natural way to effectively treat wastewater from the facility before it's returned to the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, a shipping canal constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.   


Around the time the channel was built in 1984, employees at our Columbus mill began exploring the potential benefits of artificial marshes. It was a revolutionary concept in sustainability at the time, and nearly 25 years later it still lives up to that vision. 

“As far as we know, we’re the only company in our industry to have a wetlands area like this,” says Cody Arnold, an environmental engineer in Columbus. “It’s a favorite part of customer tours and sets us apart from everyone else.” 

While the marsh serves as home and hunting grounds for wildlife, its role in treating sewage and industrial effluent remains its primary purpose. During the seasons when cattails and other aquatic plants are growing, some 18 million gallons of water flow through it. 

“A film of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms grow on the plant roots and break down organic materials in the water, which the plants absorb for nutrients,” Cody says. “It’s very efficient at removing pollutants.”  


In fact, the marsh is 50 percent more effective than conventional wastewater treatment alone. Consisting of 33 cells, or shallow ponds, separated by earthen berms, each one holds between 6 and 12 inches of water. 

“It’s really a feat of nature,” Cody says. “And doesn’t take too much work to manage. As needed, we monitor and adjust the risers that control flow between cells to change water levels, and occasionally create floods or droughts, mimicking what happens in nature.” 

But assuming the role of Mother Nature has taken practice and ongoing experimentation. Years ago, the team planted rice and other cultivated plant species, thinking they’d work more effectively than wild plants. 

“Cattails and bulrush took over,” Cody says. “We spent a lot of time trying to keep them out, but since both plants are natural to the area, it was a losing battle. If you see one cattail today, you’ll see 50 a week later. The good news is we learned they’re actually more effective at treating water.” 

Today, these plants also serve as an important food source and shelter for a variety of birds and small animals, including some unwanted critters. 

“We work with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife to tag, trap and remove beaver,” Cody says. “They tend to chew threw the wooden risers, and their dams can kill the marsh.” 


The team also introduced a novel solution for controlling nutria, an invasive rodent from South America that burrows into berms and weakens them. 

“A few years ago, we constructed predator poles for owls, hawks and other raptors,” Cody says. “They give the birds a place to perch and hunt.” 

The poles have proven their effectiveness. Nutria are seen from time to time, but the numbers have been reduced tremendously. 

“There’s an art to running a marsh,” Cody says. “There’s always something to learn and new things to try. For example, we’re considering planting lily pads in some of the cells that struggle to grow cattails. But we’re careful about making changes. Sometimes we need to provide a helping hand, but our overall goal is to allow nature to thrive and do what it does best.” 

Learn more about Weyerhaeuser's commitment to water quality