Looking forward

Stepping into the Executive Director position for the Forest Stewards Guild is a great honor. The Guild’s vision for socially, ecologically, and economically responsible forestry is laudable, and a necessary goal for our society to be sustainable. Even more importantly, the Guild’s members, supporters, and staff put this vision into practice in forests across the country, in multiple ways. I’ve seen evidence of this in the work Guild members have done to slowly enhance forests degraded by previous decades of high grading. I’ve learned from Guild members who are on the cutting edge of science and who spearhead innovative management partnerships. I’ve heard from supporters around the country who are interested in getting beyond easy, but polarizing answers, whose donations to the Guild allow us to focus on the nuance and difficult details that real solutions require. I’ve watched Guild staff deftly handle the trickiest forest management challenges, from implementing controlled burns to facilitating resource conservation collaboration. Being part of the Guild inspires me and gives me hope for the future even in the face of all the challenges posed by a changing climate.
I am excited about the future of the Guild and our compelling, long-term vision for forestry as part of the solution to ecological and economic challenges facing the country. I see tremendous opportunities for the Guild to lead on emerging issues and expand our role. Some new projects and opportunities include:
  • We are expanding landowner outreach programs like ‘foresters for the birds’ and a new partnership with American Forest Foundation to connect with previously unengaged forest landowners in New Mexico. 
  • A new project with the University of the South and Berea College will engage private forest owners and resource professionals in managing forests to enhance habitat for shortleaf pine ecosystems. 
  • We are pursuing new opportunities to expand reforestation of the nearly 20 million acres of U.S. forests killed by fire or that have failed to regenerate to sequester carbon, improve wildlife habitat, and provide rural jobs. 
  • The Guild can be a leader in supporting women who are natural resource professionals and landowners through partnership with the Women Owning Woodlands network and other partners 
  • We should share our expertise in helping communities become more fire-adapted, especially in the wake of this year’s record-breaking fire season. 
  • We need to ensure a solid future for ecological forestry by engaging, supporting, and inspiring the next generation of forest stewards.
We are uniquely suited to fill the gaps that occur in so many partnerships and initiatives, due to the history, reputation, skills, knowledge, willingness to learn, and dedication of the Guild and its members. The Guild’s structure also helps us to be a trusted source for information and guidance across a wide range of audiences and partners. 
The Guild’s staff and Board of Directors retreat in Santa Fe at the end of September was a chance to discuss how to expand our work. Looking to the future, we are choosing a path that is not the easiest, but can contribute the most toward fulfilling our vision, employing the best efficiency possible through partnerships, outreach, idea-sharing, research, restoration, and opportunities for ecological forestry. 
I am keenly aware that none of it could happen without Guild members, supporters, and partners. Our work is your work and an essential part of building sustainability for all. Thank you, for everything you do to help forests, communities, and ecosystems and for doing it side by side with the Forest Stewards Guild.