What Makes Up a Forester? An In-Depth Look at 2023 Convention Themes

By Marcella Windmuller-Campione

The 2023 Society of American Foresters (SAF) National Convention’s theme, Forestry: It’s in Our DNA, will be an opportunity for the many individuals and disciplines that are represented within SAF to come together to learn, share, and grow. While our theme mentions DNA, our focus isn’t on genetics but rather the pride and passion members feel when they are asked, “What’s your job?” and generally respond with “I’m a forester.” When I’m asked this same question, I reply, “I’m a silviculturist.” A lot more questions usually follow that answer. Whatever your job title, discipline, or ‘ology, if we are working within or for forests, we are all foresters. 

A major call to action during the 2022 SAF National Convention was to create a more inclusive forestry field. In 2023, our goal is to reflect on the legacy of forestry, share knowledge of ongoing challenges and opportunities we face, and envision the future of our field. It is under this broad theme that we have developed five subthemes for this year’s convention. 

We welcome folks from all parts of their careers. From students (graduate to undergraduate) to individuals who have been in the profession for 40-plus years, we invite you to share your stories, experiences, and expertise. There is deep knowledge within our community; knowledge that comes from multiple ways of knowing. The subtheme Ways of Knowing Forests and Forestry will encourage the transfer of that knowledge to new audiences and communities. 

We also welcome individuals to share within our subtheme: Can We Burn Our Way Out of This? Fire Challenges Across the Nation. Fire is increasingly in the headlines; however, fire as a disturbance spans a huge gradient across numerous diverse ecosystems. By sharing successes, challenges, and logistical hurdles, we consider the complexity of fire within forest ecosystems.

Forest markets are becoming more involved and nuanced. Forests are being managed for many conventional and non-conventional forest products, from carbon and other ecosystem service markets, to a range of non-timber products, to new developments within the construction industry. Forest products are continuing to change. We look forward to hearing about challenges and opportunities within Emerging Markets.

Change is the only constant in forestry. We will explore how our discipline has changed in the Evolution of Forestry. Under this track, we ask you to consider and share opportunities to learn from the past, embrace the present, and grow into the future. 

Finally, forestry is going “viral!” As different modes of communication emerge with social media, we are eager to share that we are #forestproud. What modes of communication are most effective? In Sharing our Passion, we learn how to harness communication tools to invite people into conversations about forestry. 

Ready to explore the convention theme? Register today! 

This article originally appeared in the March 2023 issue of
The Forestry Source.

Marcella Windmuller-Campione is the program chair of the 2023 SAF Committee on National Convention Programs and an associate professor in silviculture in the department of forest resources at the University of Minnesota.