By Grant Peterson
If you read my introductory blog post, you might remember that I’m a dendrology nut. While I do owe my dendrology class for sparking my interest in trees, I admit that while I was in the class, I had no real interest in forestry. During nearly every dendrology lab I would think, “These are cool trees, but why do I care which species make good timber?” I remember one specific instance when I naively said to my classmate, “I like this class, but I don’t really like the idea of cutting trees down.” Working at NASF this summer has broadened my worldview.
My first big assignment for NASF was to write an article about forest carbon for the National Woodland Owners Association’s quarterly magazine. The research process for the article introduced me to the importance of active forest management. As it turns out, there are good reasons to chop down trees! Timber sales are critical to incentivizing landowners to keep forests as forests. And forest thinning and other timber management activities can be beneficial—even essential—to maintaining forest health, promoting forest regeneration, and preventing catastrophic wildfires.
This summer has been a three-month-long exercise in learning and building new skillsets. Weekly Smokey Bear calls and my blog post about the history of the Smokey Bear ad campaign revealed the kind of work that goes into managing America’s longest running PSA. Overseeing an association’s social media accounts for the first time taught me skills in promotional copy writing. Reading NASF’s 100-year history book and creating an interactive timeline highlighting major events in NASF’s history taught me about the importance of this wonderful organization and the necessity of advocating for forests and foresters.
One of the highlights of my internship was my trip to the Southern Group of State Foresters’ Communications Committee meeting in St. Augustine, Florida. Seeing the hard work forestry agency communicators do to advocate for foresters and forestry programs in their states was inspiring. As part of the conference, we took a tour of the Matanzas State Forest where we met Florida Forest Service foresters and land managers. One day learning about controlled burns, local partnerships, and timber management in the field taught me more about forest management than I picked up in several weeks at a desk in the office. It was also awesome to meet Mississippi’s state forester, Russell Bozeman, at the conference and to talk to him about our home state and its beautiful forests.
Other highlights of my internship included attending a Forest Climate Working Group meeting and the inaugural 1t.org US Chapter Summit. These coalition meetings emphasized the importance of one voice advocating for healthy forest management. Another wonderful part of my internship was the people I worked with at NASF. The people who work at the Washington Office are incredibly kind, and the passion they show for the work they do brings great energy to the office. I was lucky to work for an organization with such welcoming people and with a mission that I can really stand behind.
Above all, I realized that the National Association of State Foresters is incredibly important. The autonomy states have in managing their own forests is necessary for environmental conservation across the nation. NASF is crucial to securing funding and representation for these state agencies and their forest management programs.
I am so thankful that I ended up at NASF this summer. I could not have asked for a better or more enlightening internship. I now firmly believe that if everyone on Earth had a chance to work for NASF, the world would be a better place, or at the very least, the world’s forests would be much better managed.
Grant Peterson served as NASF’s 2022 summer intern. If you have questions about this blog post, please contact NASF Communications Director Whitney Forman-Cook.