In Memory of Steve Vongroven, Utilization and Marketing program coordinator, 2010 - 2015

Original tribute published in the DNR's Roots newsletter by: Mimi Barzen

Adapted by: Kristen Bergstrand, Utilization and Marketing Program coordinator, DNR

One of Steve's favorite quotes that pretty accurately sums up our program's work came to me through his friend and colleague Brian Brashaw:

"Trees are the answer."

On July 7, 2015, after 39 years with the Division of Forestry at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Steve Vongroven retired. He had been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer the year before. Sadly he did not get to enjoy a long retirement and passed away on March 4, 2016.

Steve held a variety of positions, and most enjoyed working at the General Andrews State Forest nursery in Willow River. Steve's passions for growing trees and how they could be used made his final career stop as the DNR's Utilization and Marketing (U&M) Program coordinator all the more enjoyable.


Steve made many contributions to the U&M program over the years including writing articles for this publication and working with partners such as the University of Minnesota Extension's "My Minnesota Woods" program to produce webinars and help private landowners manage their forests sustainably. Media outlets such as Minnesota Public Radio and the Minneapolis Star Tribune also called on him to comment on forest industry, making him a voice for industry change and struggles.

As an expert on industry, Steve was often asked to present to groups across the state. He chaired the U&M committee of the Northeastern Area Association of State Foresters from June 2014 to June 2015. Steve worked closely with the USDA Forest Service collecting and reporting timber product Output and Use," 2010.

Working for the U&M program allowed Steve to connect harvested wood with how forests are managed. A "people-person," he also connected people with the information or resources they needed, and found the job immensely gratifying. In his "My Minnesota Woods" webinar presentation, Steve said "?there are uses for the woods out there that we humans can benefit greatly from." Steve believed in trees as a renewable resource and if we didn't manage them than Mother Nature would and we might lose out on that renewable resource's benefits if not managed timely and well.