Joel Pounder is the environmental manager at the Pilgrim’s complex in Russellville, Ala., and he has been interested in trees since growing up on his family’s farm.
“Timber is much more than wood and paper,” Pounders said. “Trees stabilize our riparian waterways, provide shade, and help purify air and water around our wastewater treatment fields. And, of course, the local wildlife is only as good as the forest.”
Pounders pursued a career and made a living out of his childhood passion, earning an Associate’s degree and also studying environmental biology at the University of North Alabama.
Pounders joined the Pilgrim’s complex in Russellville in 1990 as a supervisor and now leads environmental programs at the processing plant, hatchery and two feed mills, which include environmental audits, wastewater treatment, groundwater monitoring at 15 locations, stream monitoring at six locations, land application of wastewater via center-pivot-irrigation, and the management of approximately 1,300 acres.
At the Russellville complex, in February alone, more than 500 trees have been. “You need to be disciplined about every aspect of sustainability: air quality, water quality, soils, carbon footprint… Trees are a link to all of those things.”
With Pounders’ help, Pilgrim Russellville has partnered with local schools and organizations to promote environmental education for students, so they learn the importance of taking care of our natural resources from an early age.
Pounders has achieved the impressive mark of more than 100,000 trees planted in his lifetime – 60,000 of them during his career in the company – and he’s not planning to stop any time soon.