About Us


The Illinois Wood Utilization Team’s projects are made possible through grant funding by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex, marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.



Illinois Wood Utilization Team

  • Goal: To encourage the harvesting and use of wood from urban and community trees felled in Illinois.
  • Funding: The Illinois Wood Utilization Team (WUT) launched in 2009 with a grant from U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area Wood Education and Resource Center (WERC) supplemented by in-kind matching support from the Illinois Institute of Technology the Chicago Furniture Designers Association and other partners. Further funding was awarded in 2014 through the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry Landscape Scale Restoration Grant Program. This latest funding grant supports the “Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle” project. This four-state partnership include the Illinois WUT; the Southeast Michigan Resource Conservation and Development Council and Recycle Ann Arbor; the Missouri Department of Conservation; and the Sustainable Resources Institute Inc. and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
  • Related Program Funding: The University of Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a WUT partner, won a 2015 Wood Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research the potential for switching to wood fuel, including fiber sourced from urban forests in Illinois.
  • Team: The Wood Utilization Team of Illinois state and federal government officials and industry leaders supports a Wood Utilization Network of urban foresters, municipalities, landowners, wood processors, green builders, economic development organizations and end users.
  • History: First funded in 2007, WUT is a subcommittee of the Illinois Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Readiness Team, which is part of the Governor’s Management and Science Advisory Panel under the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
  • Accomplishments: Explore this website to learn more about what we’ve done!

Illinois Wood Utilization Team Members

Team Chairperson

Edith Makra
Director of Environmental Initiatives
Metropolitan Mayors Caucus

Team Members

Robert Benjamin
Outreach Coordinator
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Laureen T. Blissard
Technical Director of the Green Builder Coalition & Principal of LTLB Envirotecture

Dan Cassens
Professor of Wood Products
Purdue University

Sriraam Chandraskaran
Lead Research Engineer
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Jeffrey Coath
EAB Program Supervisor
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Doug Daudell
Real Estate Manager – Facilities, Design & Construction
University of Chicago Medicine

Blake Davis
Adjunct Professor
Illinois Institute of Technology

Paul Deizman
Forest Management and Utilization
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Michael Dimitroff
Manager of Art Initiatives
Chicago Park District

Peggy Drescher
Midwest Regional Outreach Coordinator
Tree Care Industry Association

Tom Gargrave
Regional Forester
Illinois Department of Natural Resources

Gerry Hamm
GH Hamm Woodworking & Sawmill, Inc.

Jay Hayek
Extension Forester
University of Illinois

Steve Lane
GIS Coordinator
Graf Tree Care

John Lough
Senior City Forester
City of Chicago, Bureau of Forestry

Jeff Perkis
Architect & Co-Founder
Story Wood

Doug Rappe
Program Coordinator
Greater West Town Training Partnership

Scott Schirmer
EAB Program Manager
Illinois Department of Agriculture

Matt Seiler
Owner, Designer
M.S. WOODcraft
President, Chicago Furniture Designers Association

Jim Semelka
Sterling Tree Solutions

Kevin Sorby
Village Forester
Village of Wilmette


Rich Christianson
Newsletter Editor / Conference Director

Matthew Kent Baxley
PSM, Bioenergy
University of Illinois