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Jeff and Myla Jordan

Jeff and Myla Jordan: No matter your background, you’ll find a home

As high school graduation neared, Jeff Jordan (BSFR ’95, MFR ’97) figured he would follow in the footsteps of his father, who spent his career in the Marine Corps. 

But then his dad sat him down and explained that if he had to do it all over again, he might not choose the same path. Jordan looked at his father, his hero, and asked, if not the Marines, then what? 

“He said, well, something in the outdoors,” said Jordan. So, he began college at a local junior college and then transferred to UGA, where he landed at Warnell. “I got lucky when I was there, I think, because I didn’t have a background in forestry. But I was very focused on trying to soak it all in.” 

It’s a common misconception among students even today, who think you must come to Warnell with some knowledge of trees or wildlife. But everything you need to know is taught in Warnell classes and labs. For Jordan, this worked in his favor as he approached every topic with open eyes and learned from books authored by the faculty who were teaching him. Eventually he received an invitation to get his master’s degree under one of them, Dr. Bob Bailey.  

During the year or so Jordan spent working toward his graduate degree, he crossed paths with an undergraduate student who would later change his life. “We met for the first time in Flinchum’s Phoenix—Dale Greene was doing a measurements class,” said Jordan. “I was setting up a lab and Myla walked in. I think she said hello, but to hear her tell the story, she made up her mind right then that we were going to get married.” 

A friendship began, but nothing more. Each graduated and went their separate ways—Jordan to F&W forestry in Albany, where he is now the chief operating officer, and Myla (BSFR ’97) to metro Atlanta, where she worked in computer programming. A couple years passed, and he returned home after attending a Warnell homecoming event to find a message on his answering machine. “There was a voice that said, ‘Hey, I don’t know if you remember me …,’” said Jordan. (Yes, he did remember her.) “So, I called her, and we started talking and three months later we were engaged.” 

Now, after decades of working with F&W, Jordan looks back on his years at Warnell and is glad that he was able to find direction during a time in his life where much was up in the air. His advice to current students? Look for classes that complement forestry while also building skills that are complementary. 

“If you had some discretion over electives outside of forestry, I’d take a basic accounting class—it’s important, and it’s the language of business. I would also take a computer programming class; it teaches you how to take a big problem and break it down into small pieces,” said Jordan. “The other thing I’d say is, I lived in cities—I wasn’t raised in the outdoors. But that didn’t preclude me from being able to do well in the profession. It comes down to what you’re willing to apply; I really wanted to soak everything up in the time period I had.” 

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