Starting at the Top, “Promoting Forestry Education”
Forestry education is an ongoing process and from experience, forestry has never been able to hit the “Got Milk” level of national recognition. As reported two or three months ago, many consumers talk about sustainability and according to marketing research, very few, if any, have a clear understanding of what sustainability is. Hopefully, recent events have started the ball rolling toward understanding the forest industry and it will continue to increase in size and prominence as momentum builds.
Several pieces of legislation put forward by the American Loggers Council in conjunction with other associations brought attention to the logging industry early in 2020. One bill being the 2020 Logger/Log Trucker Covid relief legislation and the other equally as important is the “Safe Routes Act”. The COVID relief for loggers is important and even more important is the fact that Congress and the White House are recognizing the forest industry to a point where some degree of parity between the logging and farming industries can be achieved.
In addition to previous mentioned legislation, Forest Resources Association (FRA) has been relentless on the H2B legislation to provide traditional migrant workers for planting trees and Federal Forest Resources Coalition (FFRC) is always at the top of their game on USFS issues. On August 10th, 2020 FRA hosted a call with the White House to better explain the H2B issue and FFRC has testified at congressional hearings on several important forestry issues.
On August 26th, 2020, at the Republican National Convention Scott Dane, Executive Director of the Associated Contract Loggers and Truckers of MN did a great job speaking to the nation about the history and importance of logging. At a recent Trump Rally in Duluth MN, the backdrop, by design, was encircled with three log trucks and the bleachers were filled with loggers wearing red and black flannel and “Making Logging Great Again” hats. Although industry has tried to dispel the fact that all loggers wear red and black flannel, America seems to relate to it as the choice of color for loggers. I remember red and black flannel as the color for deer hunting before florescent orange came along. The rally provided America the opportunity to see loaded log trucks, the signs on them and logger’s whose pictures were posted on several national media systems.
Helping America get back to its roots and understanding their dependance on sustainable forest management is part of the educational process and these are national events which are helping to achieve the goal. Another sign of improvement is the fact a logger representative has been appointed to serve on the Presidents Export Council. The press release can be found on page 10 in this edition of TPA.
Before long, the National Hardwood Federation will be doing a premier of its efforts to promote “real” American hardwoods for use in home building and other applications. For years, the building industry has been inundated with wood-like looking products which have had a negative impact on American wood products, which in turn has a negative impact on forest management.
Closer to home several additional programs are in play educating the public about their dependence on, and the importance of the forest industry. A series of 90 second messages which are shared multiple ways including Facebook, Roku and other social media venues and have begun working their way into the public spotlight. Partners like WI Economic Development Corporation, the St. John Education Fund, Discover Media Works and Wisconsin County Forest Association together with the Northern Wisconsin Wood Collaborative have been instrumental in getting the project started and funded. Then there is the “BeLeaf it or Not” series of educational films which can be found at this link.
The funding for this work comes again, from multiple sources pooling their dollars to get the biggest return on investment with members money. There are dozens of projects which are on-going to promote forestry and GLTPA and the FISTA Earl St. John Education fund have been supporters to many of these projects. While it always nice to toot one’s own horn, it is nearly impossible to get this much work done without partnerships, passion, and dedication by those who care and depend on the forest industry not only for its products, but as a way of life in rural America. Keeping the ball rolling to make it bigger and unstoppable will take ongoing continued support for the foreseeable future. The investment is a big and the results will be even bigger.Until next month,