Celebrating the Bigger Picture

There’s a lot to like about SFI annual conferences.

They bring together the SFI community so we can share ideas and explore future opportunities with experts – this year speakers included Kathryn Fernholz from Dovetail, Scott McDougall from TerraChoice, Adam Grant from the World Resources Institute, Mary White from PepsiCo, Michael Luzier from the NAHB Research Center and Jimmie Powell from The Nature Conservancy. A panel of Aboriginal leaders shared their experiences with SFI, and three SFI board members engaged in a thoughtful open discussion.

The conference in Burlington, VT, was our biggest ever, with 226 participants. We welcomed customers – like PepsiCo, IKEA, JCPenney and Time – as well as delegates from companies and communities of all sizes, Aboriginal communities, government agencies and conservation groups. They included academics, students, auditors, biologists, printers, landowners and forest professionals – it truly represented The Bigger Picture – Conservation. Integrity. Community.

I was constantly reminded that it’s the passion, the enthusiasm, the knowledge and the diversity of our many participants and supporters that make the SFI program so strong. That’s why we are able to achieve so much in forests and communities across North America.

The conference awards luncheon gave me a chance to showcase some of this good work.

The Boy Scouts of America received the SFI President’s award for everything they do to promote the value of sustainable forestry. Their Forestry merit badge encourages scouts to explore the complexity of forests, and is especially important when you consider these youth are our future leaders, our future land managers, our future consumers. The Boy Scouts of America are also firm supporters of forest certification – their Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico is certified to the SFI Standard; Boys’ Life magazine is printed on SFI chain-of-custody certified paper; and they are using SFI-certified wood for facilities in West Virginia where the 2013 Scout Jamboree will be held.

At this year’s conference, we also celebrated the achievements of the Mississippi SFI Implementation Committee, The Lyme Timber Company and the Wildlife Management Institute.

The Mississippi SFI Implementation Committee met a broad range of criteria – including leadership, logger education, landowner outreach and education, SFI program integrity, and SFI program growth – to earn the 13th Annual SFI Implementation Committee Achievement Award. I can’t say enough about the fantastic contributions our SFI Implementation Committees make. By representing SFI locally, they help us support strong communities and responsible forest practices.

The Lyme Timber Company and Wildlife Management Institute received an SFI Conservation Leadership Award for Biodiversity Research for a project that is improving forest habitat for the American woodcock in northern New York State. As always, there are a lot of other partners involved – including New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Geological Survey; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; and Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Thanks to everyone who made the 16th Annual SFI Conference such a great success – including delegates, sponsors and speakers. Check our conference website where we have posted speaker presentations, including the inspiring keynote address by Larry Selzer, President and CEO of The Conservation Fund and an SFI board member.

I hope to see you at next year’s conference from Sept. 11 to 13 in Milwaukee.

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