MISSOULA – University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation student Stephen Jenkins from Bigfork and recent forestry graduate Jena Trejo from Marcola, Oregon, were first runners-up in the Barrett Foundation Business Concept Challenge.
The challenge, sponsored by the National Forest Foundation and supported by donor Craig Barrett, recognizes business ideas that solve natural resource challenges in America’s national forests.
Jenkins and Trejo developed a business plan to convert logging slash and other wood waste into methanol and liquid carbon dioxide through a mobile gasification unit. They will process low-value woody biomass from forest thinning and lumber mill operations with equipment small enough to bring to processing sites, eliminating the costly transport issues that currently limit biomass production. Jenkins and Trejo received a $25,000 prize.
Sponsor Craig Barrett, former chairman and CEO of Intel and current chairman of the National Forest Foundation’s board of directors, described the purpose of this competition as “stimulating new ideas and cultivating the next generation of entrepreneurial natural resource and business leaders.”
“We’re so proud of Jena and Stephen for working to solve the really tough issue of finding a market for small-diameter wood,” UM College of Forestry and Conservation Dean Jim Burchfield said. “The college is lucky to have such hard-working, innovative students and we appreciate the National Forest Foundation and Craig Barrett for recognizing these two talented students.”