VFA Virginia Forests Winter 2023

26 VIRGINIA FORESTS forestry-focused groups, including educational institutions, government agencies, professional associations, businesses, foresters, landowners, and more. We might take this opportunity to unify our efforts to tackle this problem. Much like a stand of trees, we are stronger together. As you have read in many of my columns, I am currently a forester mainly because of a forestry camp that I was able to attend in high school. This camp was also a career camp. Today, a Forest Industry Career camp might be something to consider that might include days or introducing young people to the business of forestry. For example, a logging/truck driving day that would tour timber harvesting sites, a day for sawmill and paper mill tours, and any number of other events that might attract prospective foresters. We currently hold a multitude of meetings within our industry, and it may be helpful to encourage high school student attendance at some of these meetings, including the Richmond Logging Expo. If I were a high school student who may not be planning on attending college, walking around all that logging equipment at The Logging Expo would definitely pique my interest in a forestry career. Finally, when we discuss future workforce development, we often look at today’s students through our own experiences. Their idea of being a forester may be different than mine. There is no denying the generational gap between us. I loved being in the woods and fully expected a career fighting ticks, brush, extreme temperatures and avoiding snakes. I feel we need to do a better job of telling our story to high school students who are beginning to make career decisions. We need to recruit the types of future workers that want to spend time in the woods and don’t mind getting their boots muddy. The future of our industry is going to depend on getting new boots on the ground. Matt Dowdy is a consulting forester and member of VFA’s Magazine Editorial Committee. Opinions expressed in the column are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the policies or position of Virginia Forestry Association. INTRODUCING: NEXT GENERATION VOICES WOODS, WATER, WILDLIFE & RECREATION—these make up the cornerstones of the Virginia Tree Farm program and are enduring benefits of a healthy and well-managed forest for many generations. Experiencing the wonder and appreciation of our natural resources is often a cross-generational effort by family members, educators, and mentors. In our new column, “Next Generation Voices,” Virginia Forests magazine invites young contributors (schoolage, kindergarten through college students) to share stories, photos, and artwork that show how they are connected to or participating in activities and education related to forestry, wildlife, outdoor recreation, seasonal observations, and more. Teachers, parents, and individual students are encouraged to submit material for consideration. We will collect submissions on a variety of topics and choose different themes to feature in upcoming issues of the magazine. A form for submissions will be available soon on VFA’s website (vaforestry.org) and in the VFA Voice, our biweekly enewsletter. To get started, send us your response to the topic, Ways You Use Wood and Wood Products from the Forest. You may submit your response by email, to VFA at vfa@vaforestry.org, or call the VFA office at (804) 278-8733 if you need assistance. Tell Us About Ways You Use Wood and Wood Products from the Forest.