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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

Kevin W. Zobrist

“It had been a few years since forestry school, and I was a bit rusty on tree identification. I found it frustrating that often numerous resources were needed to get complete information about a given species, and photos were always limited. This is what spawned my desire to create a single book with all of the key material for every native species in western Washington.”—Kevin Zobrist

Kevin Zobrist may be the only person in the world to embark on what he affectionately calls “tree safaris,” using his camera to hunt down western Washington’s 32 native species. He relishes the challenges—finding good specimens in different growth stages, capturing spring blossoms, summer fruits, and fall color, and maintaining detail despite the high contrast in forest settings. He has already spent seven years documenting each variety, and the chase continues as he pursues ever better photographs.

Zobrist grew up surrounded by the beautiful beaches and dense woodlands of the Pacific Northwest. He loved being outdoors, so in high school he took one semester of forestry science. All the concepts were new to him, including basic tree identification. It became his favorite class, eventually sparking a lifelong passion. As a university student unsure about a career, he remembered that course, and looked into studying forest management. As soon as he saw the requirements—all courses he would happily have selected as electives—he declared his major and never looked back. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in forestry, both from the University of Washington.

Writing the text to accompany his photographs presented new obstacles. Since much of what Zobrist knew about native trees was anecdotal, he realized he needed to verify his facts. Sources were sometimes in conflict or simply unavailable, but he persisted, gathering new information and correcting his own perceptions.

Today, Zobrist is an associate professor at Washington State University, overseeing the Extension Forestry program in Snohomish, Skagit, King, Island, and Whatcom Counties. He spends his time on public education, outreach, and applied research, primarily working with small forest landowners. He and his colleagues offer classes, workshops, webinars, tours, and field days. They also provide online resources and “how to” publications.

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