There's More than Just the Swag!

Written by Jeremy Douse 

SAF has changed over the years and, as a result, the convention has changed with it. I am a mid- career (maybe late mid-career) forester and when I first started attending SAF’s national convention, all you had was a booklet of the agenda and a map of the convention space. You didn’t quite have to shoot an azimuth and pace it out to get to a presentation, but you certainly had to do some recon to figure out where everything was located. Now you can download the handy SAF app to your phone where you can peruse the different presentations that are happening, query the presenters, receive up-to-date event messages and announcements throughout the week, and plan out your agenda to hit all the things you want. Also, the website has improved substantially over the years to help you better plan your trip and coordinate your schedule for the week of convention.

When I was a younger professional, I wanted to get as much information as I could in the topics I was interested in. I was a field forester, so I would maximize my time around silviculture, harvesting, and inventory topics. As I progressed in my career I became more interested in a more global view of forestry and how this profession is implemented around the country. Now, one of my main challenges is hiring early career foresters and gaining new information on policies. National convention provides an outlet for all these stages of your career. Whether you are trying to get more exposure to new imaging technology, or you are trying to recruit for that field forester position, convention is where it’s at.

If you are at the stage in your career where you are looking for job opportunities, there will be a lot of employers (myself included) that would like to meet you. The Expo Hall and Career Fair are great opportunities for connecting with prospective employers, discovering job openings across the country, and putting your resume in front those doing the hiring. There will be employers from all disciplines of forestry and natural resources, like government, private and non-profit organizations at SAF’s convention this year. If you want to investigate advanced degrees, various university programs will be on site for you to meet and network with.

Highlights for me at convention are always the field trips, People, Policy and Popcorn discussions, alumni receptions, and, of course, the big stage opening discussions. The best advice I can give to a first-time convention attendee is to make a plan beforehand but be willing to change that plan as you progress through the week. Whatever you do, stay flexible, try to meet as many people as possible, and enjoy.

National convention provides an outlet for everyone. Whether you are trying to get more exposure to new imaging technology, or you are trying to recruit for that field forester position, convention has it all. But before you head to the next concurrent session, don’t forget to stop by the store and purchase some of that swag!

Jeremy Douse serves as the 2024 Program Chair on the 2023 SAF Committee on National Convention Programs, the Alaska SAF Science and Technology Chair, and the Northern Region Forester with the Alaska Division of Forestry and Fire Protection.