This conference,The Future is Decided Now, in Milwaukee, WI, has been a truly invigorating experience for me! I hope all of you — all 200-plus delegates — are feeling the same as you head home.
I feel buoyed, encouraged and eager to act on the work accomplished over the past three days. The agenda may say this was the end of the conference, but to me it feels more like a call to action, a beginning, to go out there and share all that we have learned during panel sessions, in the hallways, the exhibit room, or the hospitality suite (where we definitely demonstrated SFI spirit!)
The conference also underscored how much we need to continue to reach out to the next generation. We were fortunate again this year to have several student delegates at the conference. One of them, Katie Hietala, a Forest Ecology student at Michigan Tech, said, “at university we don’t talk very much about certification. We touch on it but that’s about all. Coming to the conference and meeting the people who have their feet on the ground gave me a better understanding of the SFI certification process.”
We will hear more from Katie and from the other students in the weeks following the conference as guest bloggers here on this site, so I urge you to weigh in, start a dialogue and continue to engage with them in the future.
Sustainable forestry is not just about talking the talk, its about walking the ground as one of our panelists, John Burke, a woodland owner and Chair, American Forest Foundation Board of Trustees so succinctly put it. That means educating the industry, the consumer and the general public so I urge all of you to act as ambassadors for sustainable forestry.
Tat Smith (UofT) and Elizabeth Woodworth (Enviva) spoke of the opportunities to inform EU policymakers that biomass from North America’s certified forests are an excellent proof point of sustainability.
We heard from users of the ATFS, SFI, CSA, PEFC and FSC standards on what these standards offer and how they can gain recognition.
Of course, these blogs have just touched on our conference experiences, and I hope to revive these discussions and themes through future guest blogs.
If nothing else, I hope these blog postings have whetted your appetite for next year’s conference. SAVE THIS DATE: SEPT. 17-19, 2013 in SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS! See you there!
Thanks again for an incredible conference!