About Us

The University of Tennessee Knoxville’s School of Natural Resources is honored to be the new home of the historic Champion Tree Program. The original vision of this program in American Forests Magazine from 1940 includes “the establishment of a nation-wide laboratory for the study of forestry and trees” – by housing this vital conservation effort at one of Tennessee’s public land-grant universities, we’re able to bring the hope of American foresters from the 1940s into reality.

About the new National Director

Jaq Payne served as the Director of the Tennessee Champion Tree Program from 2021 to mid-2023. His unique background in Theatre, Project Management, and Business Leadership is the foundation of his creative, community-centered approach to conservation work.

Jaq Payne standing in front of grove of trees - Photo Credit: Aw Snap Photography