U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Greenville, SC
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE (April 4, 2019) – Attracting the next generation of natural resource professionals and specifically consulting foresters is challenging. Ensuring that the next generation of professionals reflects the rich diversity found among family forest owners across the U.S. is even more so.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment) today announced the launch of its pilot “People of Color in Forestry Consulting Apprenticeship Program,” to expand the number of minorities among the ranks of consulting foresters.

The program is being field tested under an agreement between the Endowment and Wiregrass Ecological Associates, LLC (WEA), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southern Forestry Consultants, Inc. (SFC). As part of the agreement, and to ensure the program begins on solid footing, the Endowment will provide WEA with a no interest loan of up to $50,000 over three years to aid in covering start-up costs while the first apprentice gains experience and builds the business. In addition, the Endowment will engage with both WEA and the apprentice to glean learnings that will allow program enhancements and the sharing of best practices with the broader community. In turn, WEA will engage the apprentice at a family-supporting wage, work with the candidate to develop and implement a robust training program, and provide feedback to the Endowment.

“Years of investment in our highly-successful Sustainable Forestry and African-American Land Retention Program designed to expand the ranks of black families engaged in active forest management, highlighted the disparity of minorities in the ranks of consulting foresters. Increasing the number of foresters and forestry technicians representing various people of color not only increases the number of bright young natural resource professionals overall – which is greatly needed – but it also increases the likelihood that more minority landowners will become interested and engaged in forest management,” said Carlton Owen, President and CEO of the Endowment. “When all is said and done, a talented and diverse army of consultants benefits both forests and the communities that rely on them.”

“The most common approach to trying to fill the void in foresters of color has been to establish recruiting programs and scholarships at forestry schools. And yet, even the most aggressive programs have had limited success,” said Austin Carroll, WEA Vice-President and Partner with SFC. “Moreover, emerging or recent graduates are often quickly snapped up by federal or state natural resources agencies or private companies. Our intent in partnering with the Endowment on this innovative program is to provide targeted training and support for promising young professionals to aid in early career development in consulting. We are excited to be the first company to take part in this important initiative to diversify our ranks and extend the reach of services to more landowners.”

Michael Wetzel, President of the Association of Consulting Foresters (ACF), noted, “The Endowment’s Apprenticeship program appears to be a great opportunity to engage people of color in the practice of professional consulting forestry. ACF welcomes such a program with hopes that we can aid in the development of such individuals while serving as a conduit for employment opportunities.”

The first apprentice in the program joined WEA on April 1. After working through the logistics of the pilot with WEA and the first participant, the Endowment’s Board will review results as it considers expanding the program with other firms and candidates interested in pursuing forestry consulting as a career.


For more information contact:

Carlton N. Owen, President & CEO, 864-233-7646, carlton@runslikeclock.work The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (the Endowment) is a not-for-profit public charity working collaboratively with partners in the public and private sectors to advance systemic, transformative, and sustainable change for the health and vitality of the nation’s working forests and forest-rich communities – www.usendowment.org

About Wiregrass Ecological Associates, LLC (WEA)

Wiregrass Ecological Associates is a leading environmental and ecological consultancy that delivers efficient and timely results for a wide variety of restoration ecology, wildlife management, and environmental compliance projects. Their team of certified wildlife and fisheries biologists, foresters, and ecologists offers a diverse suite of services that includes species and habitat conservation planning, natural resource management, forest ecology, lake management, aquatic ecology, and much more. WEA is committed to providing integrated solutions on complex ecological issues for clients in a variety of industries and market sectors. – www.wiregrassecological.com

About Southern Forestry Consultants, Inc. (SFC)

Southern Forestry Consultants is a forestry and natural resource consulting firm for landowners in the southeastern United States since 1987. SFC develops practical strategies to solve unique challenges through forest management, geospatial solutions, ecological consulting, and land sales. Their forestry and ecological consultants combine deep expertise and professionalism with innovative technologies to help clients manage their sustainable forestry and land management projects. SFC is dedicated to the planning and implementation of customized strategies to improve the land, timber, water, and wildlife resources entrusted to their care. – www.soforest.com

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