Foundation | Rob O. Fellowship

Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy & Analysis

The ONLY fellowship in the country that focuses future professionals in career development in policy and research that impacts the success of ownership and management of private forests.

pathway in between trees at daytime
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Rob Olszewski’s passing left a substantial gap in advocacy efforts on behalf of private forest landowners. Few natural resources professionals have the training, knowledge, and support to pursue a forest policy path in their careers.

Rob Olszewski’s legacy was his dedication to helping sustain America’s private forest lands. In honor of his work and tireless pursuit to accomplish this purpose, the Forest Landowner Foundation established the Rob Olszewski Forest Policy and Analysis Program to carry on the passion that he brought to ensuring the economic health and viability of private forests.

There is an overwhelming void in preparing the next generation of forestry professionals to engage meaningfully in the formation of sound, science-based forest policy. If, as an industry, we are to effectively influence forest policy we must develop natural resource managers with traits like Rob Olszewski possessed – a combination of good science, effective communication skills, and an understanding of how essential policy is to resource management and viable forest businesses.

About the Fellowship

As part of our Future Forestry Leaders Program, FLF established the Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy and Analysis. Fellowships are awarded to applicants who are pursuing a post-graduate degree that is closely related to FLA’s policy priorities.

The Rob O Fellowship is much more than a scholarship program – it is a comprehensive fellowship that provides unique experiences, critical skills, and influential connections. Fellows conduct research and analysis in support of ongoing FLF & FLA policy initiatives, culminating in a finished work product to be presented to the Advisory Council. This project complements and enhances the fellow’s ongoing academic studies. Recipients should expect to dedicate 5-10 hours per week to research and activities associated with the fellowship, with flexibility in when those hours take place. Research may be conducted under the guidance of FLA staff and/or the graduate student’s faculty adviser.

In addition, fellows have the opportunity to become immersed in a wide array of forest policy activities, professionals, and processes throughout the course of the year. For example, fellows are encouraged to visit Washington, DC, with the FLF Board of Trustees and the FLA Board of Directors during their annual meeting and hill visits in February of each year. Upon completion of the Rob O program, each fellow is equipped to launch a dynamic and successful career in forest policy and analysis that will honor the memory of Rob Olszewski.

Research Program: Opportunities for Forest Landowner to Participate in Carbon Markets

The Forest Landowner Foundation staff and Advisory Council will work with each recipient to develop a fellowship research program. This year, we are seeking a student with an expertise in carbon and ecosystem services. Specifically, we plan for this year’s fellow to conduct an assessment of opportunities for forest landowners to participate in carbon markets. We expect the fellow to conduct deep analyses regarding the benefits and risks of each available program, the size of ownership best suited to each program, and any potential gaps where new programs should be developed to foster greater access and more meaningful benefits for forest landowners who wish to participate in this growing area.

Fellowship funds may be used to:

  • Pay tuition and fees for graduate studies
  • Fund research associated with forest policy development and implementation
  • Travel to forest policy meetings and events
  • Support hours worked on the fellow’s research program

Eligibility & Criteria

  • Pursuit of a post-graduate degree in a forestry-related field during the term of the fellowship
  • Maintain an overall B average (3.0 on a 4.0 scale)
  • Demonstrated interest in forest policy research and analysis relevant to private forest landowners at the national scale
  • Quality of reference letters
  • Overall demonstration of the ideals expressed by Rob Olszewski throughout his career

About Rob Olszewski

A graduate of Michigan Technological University and the University of Georgia, Rob began his career as the state forest hydrologist with the Florida Division of Forestry in 1980. Rob went on to be the Director of Environmental Affairs for Georgia-Pacific and The Timber Company, and ultimately, the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at Plum Creek from 2001 to 2015. His greatest contributions, however, came through the substantial committee work he did for the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the National Council of Air and Stream Improvement, the Forest Landowners Association, the Forest History Society and the Society of American Foresters.

Most of his forty-year career was spent working on forest and environmental policy issues through committees that addressed policy. What separated Rob from many of his peers during these endeavors was his commitment to policy based on science and fact, not emotion. His breadth of knowledge on forest hydrology, forest management, wildlife, and landscape planning always contributed to the discussions. That characteristic, coupled with a strong positive outlook, made Rob a great colleague and extraordinary policy analyst.

Rob O.

Application Timeline

Applications Accepted:      November to February

Recipient(s) Announced:    March

Fellowship Period:             12 months, TBD based on the fellow’s earliest availability

2022 Rob Olszewski Fellowship Application

How to Apply:

The application period is now closed.

  1. Letter of interest highlighting you research interests and their connection to FLA’s policy priorities
  2. Complete resume/CV (including GPA)
  3. Two letters of recommendation
  4. Graduate school plan of study (including coursework and research activities) highlighting connection to this year’s Research program, described above
  5. Proposed budget for funds, up to $15,000


Contact for questions/problems with the application.

Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy and Analysis Recipients

2019 Rob O Recipient

Lauren Ward

The Forest Landowner Foundation is proud to announce the inaugural recipient of the Rob O fellowship: Lauren Kate Ward of the University of Georgia. You might have met Lauren at our conference in Virginia Beach last year or participated in her research by completing a survey about private forest landowners and the Endangered Species Act.

A doctoral candidate at Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, Mrs. Ward authored and issued a survey aimed at better understanding the attitudes private landowners have about endangered species and the Endangered Species Act. She commented that there was a great need for the study and it was important because the issue thus far hasn’t been studied.

2021 Rob O Recipient

Shadiksha Sharma

Our second Rob O. fellowship recipient is Shadiksha Sharma from Penn State University. Shadi joined us for the National Conference of Private Forest Landowners in Williamsburg, VA in 2021 where she presented to the Board on her research.

A doctoral candidate in the Forest Resources Management program at Penn State, Shadi is working on an online tool for private forest landowners to determine if a carbon program is beneficial to them, along with a white paper on different carbon sequestration programs.

Other Funded Projects

Auburn university

Suharsha Baskarla

Assessment and survey of forest landowners’ knowledge of and willingness to participate in carbon markets.
University of Florida



Published research: Can Payments for Watershed Services Help Advance Restoration of Longleaf Pine?

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