The Forest Landowner Foundation’s Future Forestry Leaders Programs are securing the next generation of family forest legacy ownership as well as promoting a new generation of forest ownership and professionals. We engage the children and grandchildren of forest owners, as well as those who are new to forestry at several stages of their life, beginning in the adolescent years, college years, and early career stages. By doing so, we pique their interest not only in the family forestry business but also in the possibility of pursuing a forestry or natural resources degree in college and then a career in forestry. The Forest Landowner Foundation is ensuring natural resources graduates entering the workforce have the knowledge and skill set needed to meet the responsibilities of modern forestry professions.
The challenge in developing private forest sector talent is to teach communication skills that enable young professionals to work with societies shifting views and the increasingly diverse stakeholders (NGOs, the private sector, government agencies) in matters related to the management and economic viability of private forests. A key factor of the long-term viability of America’s private forests depends on our ability to develop advocates and professionals armed with an interdisciplinary skill set to achieve results in the woods, private sector, and policy arena.
Ensuring a modern forestry profession
Recruiting, educating, and employing the next generation of forestry professionals across all aspects of the field: ownership, management, policy, markets, environmental services, and ambassadors.
Creating Society Ready Forestry Graduates
Under the Rob O. program, FLF is launching three new initiatives focused on the next generation of forestry professionals:
Forest Policy Institute
In conjunction with the FLA Winter Board meeting, FLF hosts a policy institute designed to introduce forestry students to public policy and how it impacts various aspects of forest ownership and management as well as how landscape-level conservation initiatives intertwine with forestry issues. We launched the pilot of the program in February 2019 with 4 to 6 students and expanded in 2020 with 8 students.
Students will meet with the key appointees of federal agencies and relevant congressional committee chairmen as well as leading conservation organizations and trade associations.
Congressional Internship Program
Working with members of Congress of prominent forestry states, FLA will facilitate summer internships in Washington DC congressional offices. Interested forestry students will apply for internships through FLA. In the first year of the program, we anticipate the placement of 3 to 5 interns. We will seek to increase the number of forestry interns to 10 or more per summer.
Interns would be responsible for all costs related to their internship (housing, travel, food). As the program grows and gains financial support, it is feasible we could offer stipends.
Industry Mentorship Programs
FLA is partnering with forestry companies that focus on the economics, data analysis, and multi-dimensional aspects of forestry revenues. The focus of mentorships is to expose forestry students to the importance of skill sets they may not be learning in the classroom; the human dimensions of forest management, especially in managing conflict and communicating effectively in the workplace as well as with clients and the public.
The perspective of managing forests for timber is getting lost not only in the court of public opinion but also among forestry students.
“We frequently hear from the forestry community that we want your students to be better communicators, better writers, with better verbal skills. We also hear employers want self-starters, independent and responsible workers, team players, problem-solvers, and be able to drive a tractor and back up a trailer. Many of these professional skills are not taught in a single class. Our curricula are tight, and it is challenging to give up any disciplinary course to make room for professional development skills – but we are working on it.”
Paul Winistorfer, Dean, College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Tech[
Why FLF Next Generation Programs Matter
If, as a forestry community, we are to represent private forest ownership we must develop natural resource managers with traits that include scientific knowledge, strong communication skills, and an understanding of the role policy plays in resource management and the forest business. The challenge in developing private forest sector talent is to teach communication skills that enable young professionals to work with diverse stakeholders (NGOs, corporations, government agencies) in matters related to the management and economic viability of private forest. The long-term viability of America’s private forests depends on our ability to develop advocates and professionals armed with an interdisciplinary skill set to achieve results in the woods, private sector, and policy arena.
Shifting Societal Views
This challenge is compounded by shifting societal views of the uses of private forests in America, which has implications for the management of timber and other natural resources. As the population grows, land development and other demands influence the expectations of forest resource use. To meet these demands, society needs a steady supply of young professionals to manage forest resources and engage with an increasingly diverse array of influencers and stakeholders. Society’s perception of forests has shifted from consumptive uses of timber and wood products toward ecosystem conservation and species protection. Studies reveal a change in public values of forests from a utilitarian, extraction-based economic view to a broader array of nonuse ecosystem values. There are growing concerns among forestry professionals and academics about the inability of the next generation of forestry professionals:
- Communication skills and ability to work with a diverse set of stakeholders (NGOs, government agencies, corporations) in matters related to the management and economic viability of private forests.
- Understanding how policy impacts the management and economic viability of private forests in the United States.
Support Foundation Programs
When you support the Foundation, your contribution is going directly to its programs – programs that make a difference to the economic viability of family forests as well as to the future legacy of forest landowners across the country. We are run by a small staff and a dedicated group of volunteers, so administrative costs are minimal. Click the button below to support FLF programs today.