What are You Waiting For? Present at SAF2023

Written by Callie Schweitzer

Use social marketing to showcase you and your amazing forestry work! Build camaraderie through interactive communities! Using various techniques, we resolved challenges! Okay, I am trying to get your attention, hope those exclamation phrases helped. Sometimes (well, maybe more than sometimes), we get so caught up in our own work that we forget that others may not have an inkling about what do, the challenges we face in our own systems, or how we observe and discover changes in practices or attitudes. If you’re stunned by this, then this blog is for you.

There is an enormous amount of place-based science and management activities that is influencing the health and sustainability of our nation’s forests, and our social marketing and communication often falls flat, or doesn’t even exist. One way to resolve this disconnect is by participating in the science and technical concurrent sessions at this year’s convention. We need natural resources and forestry professionals and students to help to get the word out by presenting their stories in Sacramento, CA.

When I was a graduate student, I vividly remember the first time I presented my research. It was an in-house science event, and the departments in the College of Agriculture at Penn State took it quite seriously. In retrospect, there most likely was some competition among the faculty and deans to have their students’ work recognized at the college level. Students were provided a small amount of funding to make posters, and honestly, more time was spent cutting poster board and gluing (yes you read that correctly) carefully worded text to each poster piece, which was then even more carefully cut with an X-acto knife to provide a framed background. These pieces were then tacked on a provided poster board, and we students dutifully stood by them and addressed questions as needed. But the best part was standing at my poster and interacting with the other graduate students. I learned more about the depth and breadth of research at Penn State during that event than any other I attended. Presenting at that first science event and communicating my work throughout my career through similar settings, demonstrated the value of being a speaker and communicating my passion. I have made connections that served me well throughout my graduate studies and beyond and expanded my network that represents the diverse nature of our field and industry.

Now, I always make an effort at any meeting, including the SAF National Convention, to spend time with the posters and their presenters. Not only is it invigorating to be around such passionate students, I enjoy learning about their programs and interests. Oftentimes with a beverage in hand and along with a few colleagues, we peruse the posters and engage in heartfelt conversations. A young scientist once shared with me that she remembered me interacting with her at her poster and expressed the impact I made; not only in my interest in her work, but also because I was the first female scientist with whom she had discussed her research. Students (both undergraduate and graduate), I encourage you to take a chance and present your research this year in Sacramento. Professionals, I encourage you to attend student presentations. Remember that sometimes it is the smallest acts that can have the longest impact.

Beyond the poster symposium, there are six additional ways to participate in the science and technical program. From 30-minute formal presentations to full day pre-conference workshops, there are a variety of ways to showcase your case study, research, skills, products, or story. If a commitment to a presentation isn’t for you, then consider a science flash. For a mere eight minutes you can enthrall us with some photos of your forests, of your colleagues, and tell us a story about something you did or are working to do. We don’t all know what private landowner forests look like in Michigan, or what management looks in Florida longleaf pine forest, or how California oak woodlands look. Show us. Tell us your story, and you will be amazed at the impact this can have. Last year the Convention science flash talks were dynamite, covering diverse topics from working with community forestry projects, tips for using software programs, stories from the Arizona Forestry Corps, and a photo journey through Nigeria. This rewarding experience will challenge you to tell your story quickly and succinctly. Once complete, you will have made instant connections from those in your audience. This is a great opportunity for students and professionals alike. In just eight minutes you can add ‘presented at a national level professional meeting’ to the notches in your hardhat. Time well spent.

Callie Schweitzer is a member of the 2023 SAF Committee on National Convention Programs, a 2022 SAF Fellow, and a Research Forester with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station.

The Call for Proposals submission process is now open! The deadline to submit your proposal for presentations, science flashes, panel discussions, interactive discussions, professional development seminars, pre-conference workshops, and organized sessions is March 31 at 11:59 p.m. HST. The deadline for poster submissions is May 5 at 11:59 p.m. HST. 

Submit Today!