Creating Our Working Mosaic

April 20, 2022
Written by Nan Pond

I joined SAF the fall of my freshman year of college. My undergraduate years were spent learning about forestry, but also learning what it meant to be a forester. Attending SUNY ESF SAF student chapter meetings, NYSAF and regional meetings, and the National Convention were formative experiences for me to understand how foresters could engage and learn from one another, and what it looked like for professionals to “swap notes” on their work in the various disciplines that define Our Working Mosaic. Many years, conventions, and committees later, I continue to be inspired by the personal missions of stewardship, science, and curiosity that are brought together as we work in this field. I’m honored to be serving as this year’s Program Chair for our convention in Baltimore.  This year’s convention focuses on the power of collaboration—an opportunity to come together in person after the hiatus necessitated by COVID-19 and share what we do, what we’ve learned, and learn from one another’s professional experience and personal stories.

As we consider the diversity of forestry and foresters and natural resource professionals—from what our work is, who we are, and where we work—we will do so through the lens of four convention subthemes: The Art of Collaborative Engagement, Environmental Justice and Access, Nature-based Climate Solutions, and Many Hands: Diversity in Forest Careers. These subthemes are all individually significant to our Society, as well as related to one another and to the other topics typically represented at our conventions, such as silviculture, agroforestry, biometrics and mensuration, and wildfire management.

We have made The Art of Collaborative Engagement a defining part of this year’s program. Plenary speakers who have made collaborative and cross-disciplinary work a key part of their professional success will be featured, and there is much to learn from those experiences as we continue to find ways to engage and expand how foresters can make a difference in our local communities and across the landscapes in which we work. Focusing on Environmental Justice and Access will provide a platform to highlight work addressing equity and access to the benefits of forests, as well as the consequences of forest practices for diverse communities—urban, suburban, and rural forests and those who engage with them. The role of forests and forested ecosystems in contributing real climate impact through Nature-based Climate Solutions is increasing, and we look forward to hearing about the scientific, innovative work of most relevance to attendees. Our final subtheme, Many Hands: Diversity in Forest Careers, is an opportunity to share our stories. The longer I spend as an SAF member, the more amazed I am at the breadth of work that SAF members do. Moreover, the current work of our colleagues often belies the varied and circuitous paths people take to find themselves in their current roles. Through panels and discussions, we will highlight that “non-traditional” paths are perhaps the most common, and set the stage for the next generation of forestry professionals to forge their paths.

We’re excited to highlight three fantastic plenary speakers to draw from their experiences and touch on the subthemes we’ve identified as important concepts to elevate this year. We’ve also assembled diverse Thursday Think Tank panels to cover different aspects of these subthemes. And of course, many scientific and technical sessions proposed by SAF members and Working Groups will present research and concepts of relevance to the practice of forestry and natural resource work across the country. Over the next several months, the SAF2022 Program Committee will be highlighting our field tours, plenary speakers, workshops, and the scientific and technical content we can look forward to in Baltimore—stay tuned!

Nan Pond is the chair of the 2022 SAF Committee on National Convention Programs. She can be reached at [email protected]