When Rusty Cobb was considering what he wanted to study in college, a family friend who worked in forestry helped to point him to his eventual career path.
“I’m happiest outdoors, in the woods, so making a career out of something I love was an easy decision,” says Cobb, a timber marketing manager for Rayonier’s Coastal Resource Unit based in Yulee, Florida. He’s responsible for identifying, negotiating, and delivering timber on 166,000 acres in southeast Georgia and northeast Florida.
Like many people in the past few months, Cobb didn’t know how critical his job would become as COVID-19 swept across the country. He quickly became an integral part of meeting the increased demand for timber used to make wood-based products, especially toilet paper, paper towels, medications, hand sanitizers, soaps, wood pallets and cardboard shipping boxes, and, of course, lumber and plywood to make emergency structures.
“I’m proud to help maintain the flow of timber used as raw materials by the mills and manufacturers who are tasked with keeping pandemic-related items in the marketplace,” he adds. “But marketing trees in a pandemic is not something you learn in college!”
Cobb is pleased he’s working for such a highly respected global company that takes great care in managing its renewable resource: trees. Rayonier is a real estate investment trust that manages 2.6 million acres of timberland across the United States and New Zealand. In the U.S. South, where Cobb is based, Rayonier grows loblolly, slash, and longleaf pine forests used primarily for pulpwood and sawtimber.
When Cobb began his Warnell classes and was a bit overwhelmed by the transition from a small town in middle Georgia to a big-city university campus, he remembers a professor, Dr. Bruce Bongarten, who took the time to help him adjust. Cobb says it was a pivotal moment that gave him the support he needed to succeed.
“UGA gave me the best possible knowledge base so I was ready to begin a career in forestry,” says Cobb. “But what I also realized, and continue to see, is that a UGA degree means I earned a well-respected brand in the industry. It means I received a high-quality education.”