Student keeps an eye on fund's timber investment

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Monitoring: Cory Ashby traveled around the U.S. to check on timberland.

Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System, Frankfort, enlisted some Wildcat help this summer in overseeing its timber investments.

The $14.8 billion pension fund started an internship program with the University of Kentucky that saw forestry major Cory Ashby travel the Southeast U.S., monitoring and working on the system's 121,000 acres of timber that it co-owns with the University of California Board of Regents and which is managed by Molpus Woodlands Group.

Mr. Ashby logged 12,000 miles through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana from early June through Aug. 17, assisting Molpus with timber sales, field layouts, and GPS mapping and projects, said Karen Ashby, the retirement system's director of alternatives. He also monitored harvest areas.

“It was a very worthwhile experience,” said Gary Harbin, executive secretary of the pension fund. “It gave us some insight on what our (timber managers) do on a day-to-day basis.”

Kentucky Teachers has $164 million invested with Molpus as well as another $22 million in the Northwest U.S. with Hancock Timber Resource Group.

Mr. Harbin said it was a “win-win-win” for the student intern, Molpus and the retirement system, and that the program will be continued next year. — KEVIN OLSEN

This article originally appeared in the September 3, 2012 print issue as, "Student keeps an eye on fund's timber investment".