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Nelson S. Loftus

B.S. Forestry, 1958; M.S. Forestry, 1962

Nelson S. Loftus, Jr. graduated in June 1958 with a B.S. in forestry and was employed by the Maryland Department of Forests and Parks as an assistant district forester in Frederick, Maryland. After three years working with private forest landowners and on state forestlands, he returned to Penn State as a graduate student. He earned an M.S. in forestry in 1962 and a Ph.D. in agronomy in 1966.

Graduate degrees in hand, Loftus accepted the position of research forester with the U.S. Forest Service at the Southeastern Forest Experiment Station’s Loblolly Pine Project in Macon, Georgia. In 1968, he became the research soil scientist and project leader at the Southern Station’s Hardwood Silviculture Laboratory in Sewanee, Tennessee. There he conducted his own research and also managed the lab’s entire research program, budget, and personnel.

In 1975, Loftus was promoted to assistant director of planning and application at the Southern Forest Experiment Station, New Orleans, Louisiana. He served on the core team that developed the National Plan of Research for Forests and Associated Rangelands, and personally prepared the companion document for the Southern Region.

In 1979, Loftus was promoted to a staff position in the Forest Service Forest Management Research office in Washington, DC. In this role he provided national direction and technical consultation for the conduct of ecology, silviculture, mensuration, and forest soils research programs throughout the Forest Service. His responsibilities included oversight of more than 100 scientists and other professionals, more than 40 research programs, and an annual budget in the range of $20-$25 million. Loftus retired in 1997 as the principal research silviculturist and assistant director of the Forest Management Research staff.

Throughout the course of his career, Loftus received many certificates of merit and special awards recognizing his unique contributions to forestry research and the management of national forest lands. He was selected as a Legislative Fellow and served for six months in the Washington office of Senator Cochran of Mississippi. Loftus also completed a management-training program at the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Nelson and his wife Brenda are life members of the Penn State Alumni Association. During the time Loftus worked in Washington, DC, he served on the Penn State Alumni Undergraduate Admissions Committee for the Greater Washington Area Chapter. Since retiring to State College, he has served as an elected member of the School of Forest Resources Alumni Group board of directors for two terms and as the Class of 1958 representative for the School’s Centennial Celebration. He is an elected director of the College of Agricultural Sciences Alumni Society (CAAS), now in his second term and currently serving as president. As a CAAS director, he serves on selection committees for the Governor’s School for the Agricultural Sciences, Ag Advocates, Outstanding Senior Award, and Alumni Society Internship Awards. He served as overall coordinator for Ag Live ’06, the CAAS fundraising tailgate. Loftus represented the College of Agricultural Sciences on the Graduate Student Alumni Society board of directors (2003-06), appointed to that position by the dean of the College. He is an elected member of the Penn State Alumni Council.

In 2004, Nelson and his wife Brenda established the Andrew Ward Loftus Scholarship in Penn State’s School of Music in memory of their parents and in honor of their son. They have also established an Internship Award Endowment in the College of Agricultural Sciences and have made a formal commitment to endow a scholarship in the School of Forest Resources. In 2007 they were inducted into the Mount Nittany Society.

Loftus’ community service is extensive. In Vienna, Virginia, he helped build an elementary school playground; supported music, drama, mentoring, and PTA activities at a middle school; coached youth soccer; and coordinated and chaperoned high school band trips. In State College, Loftus is membership chairman for the Penn State Women’s Volleyball Booster Club and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and community service activities of the Centre County Chapter of the Alumni Association. He is an ordained deacon in the Presbyterian Church and has served on the State College church’s membership and building committees.

April 2008