The Future of our Forests: Engage with the Next Generation

The Future of our Forests: Engage with the Next Generation

by Nancy Patch, Forest Stewards Guild Membership and Policy Council

As members of the Forest Stewards Guild, we adhere to the First Duty Principle to the forest and its future. As foresters we also understand that managing the forest most often means that we need to be skillful at managing people. With this in mind, perhaps we should bring together the concept of a Guild, in line with the Future. The definition of a Guild comes from the old English or Norse origins for an organization of persons with related interests, goals, etc., especially one formed for mutual aid or protection. It is also a biological term for plants or animals having a similar habit for growth and nutrition.

A Guild also has a tradition of apprenticeship as a means to become a member. The leadership at the Forest Stewards Guild encourages all of its members to consider ways to work with students for the Future of the Forest, and would like to offer some suggestions here.

To start, student membership is free, and with that free membership come all the benefits of the Guild. The benefit for students that is probably most valuable is learning and interacting with professional members. Here are some ideas to get involved:

  • Connect with staff/faculty at universities
  • Talk about the Guild any time you're around students
  • Be a guest lecturer in a class
  • Have a field trip once a year, during the school year.
  • Encourage a professor to join the Guild and help coordinate with students.
  • Connect with the SAF chapter or Forestry Club, have someone come in and chat about the Guild. Enter that space in a non-threatening manner. (See future Forest Steward article.)
  • For students going from academic into professional careers, become a mentor. Shepherd them through that transition.
  • Help bring job listings/opportunities to students. Connect them to the network.
  • Meet more than once with a group of students. Be someone they can talk to and ask questions of.
  • Have brochures and membership information available to students.
  • Let students know about Guild gatherings.
  • Bring students to Guild Model Forests.
  • Invite students to shadow you for a day.
  • If sufficient student and faculty interest, encourage them to start a student chapter.

And finally, let us know when you do connect with students, as we can all learn from each other; that is what a Guild does.