VFA Virginia Forests Winter 2023

Welcome back from what I hope was a wonderful, healthy holiday season spent doing what you love with the people you love. I love the start of a new year. It comes with so much promise, and I enjoy the chance to reflect on what I learned in the prior year and how I hope to grow and improve in the current year. With this theme in mind, I’d like to share my own self-reflection on the state of our association and our industry as a whole. I believe 2022 will go down as a year of growth for the Virginia Forestry Association, and I see 2023 shaping up as a year of promise. Our accomplishments were many, including: • We were able to return to ‘normal’ operations in a post-COVID world that included in-person meetings and future planning initiatives. We had an incredibly successful Forestry Summit in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech, and I saw a lot of people recommit themselves to the mission of this amazing organization. • We launched and had our first successes with the Advocacy Fund that was supported by new events like the Golf Tournament and Legislative Day on the Hill. I truly believe we now have a seat at the table like never before. In 2023, I want to continue to see us capitalize on that and expand it. • We have exciting changes on the horizon with our volunteer structure that should give more, meaningful opportunities for everyone to use their talents in the organization. Whether you are an emerging or established leader, I truly feel like you can find a place to contribute and develop skills that will be useful in the rest of your lives. • We also are developing new programs and events. We heard you both in the survey and in person and are working to meet your expectations. • We have an incredible office staff who is gelling and ready to continue this growth. Within the forestry industry, in my perspective we are at a turning point. As you will see in this issue, there are significant obstacles with our aging workforce. We have outlined some of the workforce development opportunities that exist in the hopes it will get your creative minds thinking toward the future. As you know from my previous articles, a non-forester can be successful in this space, but they do need appropriate mentoring and training to be successful. This can include getting them involved in trade organizations like ours and leaning into their passion for what our industry stands for. It certainly takes a village to develop a non-forester, but I am proof positive that this group is welcoming and open and up for the challenge! I hope you are as excited as I am for a strong, exciting 2023! I look forward to seeing you in Williamsburg, April 26–28, at the 2023 Virginia Forestry Summit! PRESIDENT’S COLUMN A Year of Promise Stephanie Grubb 3808 Augusta Avenue Richmond, VA 23230-3910 Phone: 804-278-8733 • Fax: 804-278-8774 vfa@vaforestry.org • www.vaforestry.org OFFICERS (2023-2024) President Stephanie Grubb International Paper Pawleys Island Vice President and President Elect Dan Hockenberger Virginia Forest Resources, LLC West Point Treasurer Christina Hager Dominion Energy Richmond Past President Scott Shallenberger WestRock Wirtz Executive Director Corey Connors Richmond DIRECTORS Scott Barrett Virginia Tech Blacksburg Benjamin Cole Cole Timberland Management LLC Appomattox Lavan Dauberman Colonial Farm Credit Mechanicsville Michael Harold Speyside Bourbon Cooperage, Inc. Harrisonburg Chris Harris Pinecrest Timber Co. Prince George John E. Jones III Central VA Land & Timber Montpelior R. Easton Loving Westrock Fork Union H.S. “Mac” McDannald Woodside Farm South Boston Steven Peter South Paw Forest Products, Inc. St. Stephens Church Madison West American Forest Mgmt., Inc. Stony Creek Laurie Wright Wright Forestry LLC Blackridge STAFF Corey Connors, Executive Director Sonnia Montemayor, Deputy Executive Director Anne Taylor, Membership & Communications Coordinator Chris Frost, Operations Assistant The Virginia Forestry Association, chartered in 1943, is a notfor-profit, non-governmental, privately-supported association of forest landowners, wood product industries and businesses, loggers, foresters, forest use groups, and conservation-minded citizens. New board members are elected annually by mail ballot to all VFA members. Any VFA member may be a candidate for the board. WINTER 2023 5