VFA Virginia Forests Winter 2023

WINTER 2023 17 Photo by Zoë Sumrall How can someone that works for himself, with no employees, write anything meaningful about workforce development issues? In fact, many consulting foresters enjoy the solitude and freedom of this sector of the timber industry. All we have to worry about is finding enough work to keep busy. Simple enough. There comes a point in life when we realize that we don’t want to work forever and need to start planning for someone else to carry the torch. This is something that I have started to wrestle with. Suddenly, I have “workforce development issues.” Many of the sawmillers, landowners, loggers, foresters, and farmers who read this magazine are in the same situation. There are successful multigenerational businesses and landowners in Virginia that can be a model for our own operations. These businesses and landowners have well-thought-out plans behind them (written or not) with a strong desire for the next generation to succeed. A common path to success seems to be getting the next generation interested early on. This looks to be a balancing act. Being too forceful could push the person away from pursuing a forestry career, the family business, or forest land ownership. On the other hand, having the next generation work outside of the family business for a time could be valuable. If anyone has a foolproof plan, please let us all know. There are numerous ACF and VFA members that are second generation, or more. One of the most important things we can do is to keep it going. —The Executive Committee of the Virginia Chapter ACF VIRGINIA CHAPTER Association of Consulting Foresters In-House Workforce Development