FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2019
Washington, D.C. and Ottawa, ON —The Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) announced 15 community grants today featuring collaboration between 78partner organizations. The grants will help communities across the United States and Canada grow their relationship with forests and improve their quality of life.
Through these grants, SFI is bringing together a diverse range of organizations to engage and educate youth; train and educate current and future practitioners; support and promote Indigenous, Tribal and Heritage values; and support underserved communities through forestry.
Grant project leaders include conservation organizations, environmental education providers, forest‑sector non‑profit organizations and community and Indigenous groups. The grants have a broad impact and involve organizations such as the North American Forest Partnership, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, and FPInnovations. Government agencies in Quebec, Vermont, Louisiana, Michigan, Arkansas, Georgia, and Ohio are also partners. SFI Program Participants, SFI Implementation Committees, and Project Learning Treestate networks are also involved.
“We are engaging in projects focused on strengthening communities where our SFI Program Participants operate, as well as working closely with our local grassroots network of SFI Implementation Committees and Project Learning Tree partners. Together, we are linking sustainably managed forests to community building,” said Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of SFI Inc.
SFI community grants are awarded through the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, which is dedicated to improving forest conservation and strengthening the communities that depend on forests. These projects illustrate best practices and innovative approaches for partnerships focused on environmental sustainability and the quality of life in local communities.
“Support from SFI matters because it’s helping us create a chance for youth from West Coast communities to engage in local restoration efforts and learn about ecology and conservation. Stewardship and education opportunities for youth are a key component of healthy communities. By fostering a deeper connection to and understanding of local ecosystems and natural resources we are inspiring the next generation to take care of them,” said Tom Balfour, Project Manager, Central Westcoast Forest Society.
SFI is also supporting our community-building efforts directly through the SFI Community Engagement Fund, which directly supports the work of SFI Implementation Committees. SFI responds to local needs and issues across the U.S. and Canada through 34 SFI Implementation Committees at the state, provincial and regional level.
“The SFI community engagement fund has supported many of our new programs, like the Women Owning Woodlands (WOW) Network, that will be essential to educating our local forest landowner community. With the WOW Network, we will be able to both prepare women for active roles in managing family forests and inspire women to engage in sustainable forest management practices,” said Emily Oakman, South Carolina Forestry Association Director of Landowner Outreach, Education and Programs.
In addition to SFI’s Community Grants, Project Learning Tree’s (PLT) GreenWorks! grants funds education projects. PLT, an initiative of SFI, is funding 23 GreenWorks! grants for schools and youth organizations to support environmental service-learning projects involving more than 1,000 students, from kindergarten to high school.
Engaging and Educating youth
The Forest of Health/Bosque de Salud program, led by the Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods, educates underserved youth to encourage understanding, appreciation, and hands-on interaction with the natural world using Project Learning Tree (PLT) curriculum. By reaching youth, their parents, and their community, this program is a creative approach to exposing urban youth to trees and woodlands and encouraging their future care.
The Earth Rangers School Clubs Program and Clubs Missions will increase engagement in the natural world. It leverages Earth Rangers’ extensive reach into schools through a new school clubs program that teachers and students can engage with year-round. The project will also inform teachers across Canada about Project Learning Tree (PLT) Canada.
EdVentures for Educators supports teachers to help them develop understanding and expertise in environmental science education through an immersive two-day professional development education event, hosted by the Environmental Education Association of Illinois. The training will include academic instruction, field experience, leadership development, and it will incorporate PLT curriculum and activities.
The Teacher Conservation Tour Workshop Series is an extensive PLT-focused, educator workshop, led by the Arkansas Forestry Association Education Foundation, which focuses on the environmental, ecological, and economic benefits of Arkansas’s forestlands and timber industries.
Camp Canopy for Teenagers Interested in Forestry is a week-long camp for teenagers interested in forestry, wildlife, and conservation. Its goal is to educate youth and inspire them to explore the fields of forestry and wildlife, utilizing PLT curriculum. This project is supported by the Ohio Forestry Association and the Ohio SFI Implementation Committee.
The Next Seven Generations: Supporting Indigenous Values and Improving Well-Being Through Forest Educationis a program that promotes environmental literacy, well-being and traditional Lakota values to engage underserved youth from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It is led by South Dakota Project Learning Tree, and supported by the Central Rockies SFI Implementation Committee.
Training and Educating Current and Future Practitioners
The National Knowledge Exchange Program, from the Canadian Institute of Forestry, provides an effective way to support ongoing training of forest professionals who in many cases work in remote areas with limited access to professional development. The program has a strong focus on engaging and educating youth given that many of the targeted forestry professionals are in the early stages of their careers.
Managed Forests for Birds: Spreading the Word Across the Landscape, led by the American Bird Conservancy(ABC), will deliver a workshop in partnership with the Louisiana SFI Implementation Committee, to facilitate an open discussion of forest management and bird habitat conditions among SFI Program Participants, forest owners, and wildlife, forestry, and harvesting professionals. It will complement an ongoing ABC project: Bringing Back the Forest Birds, Phase II.
Recruiting and Retaining the Next Generation of Multicultural Forestry Professionals, led by the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, is designed to help address concerns over declining enrollments in forestry and related natural resource degree programs. The program is also focused on increasing the capacity of high school teachers to integrate forestry principles into STEM curriculums through Project Learning Tree workshops.
Expanding SFI Engagement in Vermont Through Project Learning Tree Educator Recruitment and Green Careers Program Development is a program to encourage greater participation in the SFI Program through green careers programming and training student teachers. The program is led by the Vermont SFI Implementation Committee and includes Project Learning Tree Vermont.
The South Carolina WOW (Women Owning Woodlands) Network is recruiting, engaging, and teaching female participants about sustainable forest management. Evidence suggests that women will play a large role in the future of forests, making final end-of-life land use decisions that could lead to conservation or development. The project is led by the South Carolina SFI Implementation Committee.
Supporting and Promoting Indigenous, Tribal and Heritage Values
The Sustainable Management of American Marten project, led by the Cree Trappers Association and the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi, will create greater harmonization between traditional Cree trapping practices and sustainable forest development within the Cree territory. The program will also introduce Cree youth to scientific concepts and forestry career opportunities, and will provide opportunities to learn about their traditional way of life in a forest-based setting.
The Ucluelet and Tofino Field School Education, Restoration and Monitoring Program, led by the Central Westcoast Forest Society, is focused on educating and engaging children in environmental management. It is reaching the surrounding First Nation communities of Toquaht, Hitacu, Esowista, Ty-histanis, Ahousaht, and Hesquiaht.
Supporting Underserved Communities Through Forestry
The Georgia Landowner Academy is supporting underserved communities in Georgia by focusing on addressing the challenges families face relating to heirs’ property. Heirs’ property refers to a home or land that passes from generation to generation without a legally designated owner. The Georgia Heirs Property Law Center, Inc. sponsors this project.
SFI®Inc. is a sustainability leader that stands for future forests. We are an independent, non-profit organization that provides supply chain assurances, delivers conservation leadership, and supports environmental education and community engagement. SFI works with the forest sector, brand owners, conservation groups, resource professionals, landowners, educators, local communities, Indigenous peoples, governments, and universities. SFI standards and on-product labels help consumers make responsible purchasing decisions. Additionally, we oversee the SFI Forest Partners®Program, which aims to increase supply of certified forest products, the SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program, which funds research and community building, and Project Learning Tree®, which educates teachers and youth about forests and the environment. SFI Inc. is governed by an independent three chamber board of directors representing environmental, social, and economic sectors equally. SFI believes caring for forests improves everyone’s quality of life. Learn more.
Senior Director, Communications Sustainable Forestry Initiative
About Project Learning Tree (PLT)
Project Learning Tree® is an initiative of SFI. PLT educates teachers and youth about forests and the environment. PLT encourages critical thinking to increase students’ understanding of the environment and actions they can take to conserve it. Learn more.
Amy Doty, Senior Manager
About SFI Implementation Committees
The SFI Program responds to local needs and issues across the U.S. and Canada through 34 SFI Implementation Committees at the state, provincial or regional level. This unique grassroots network involves private landowners, independent loggers, forestry professionals, Indigenous people, local government agencies and conservationists. Logger and forester training, to reach the thousands of independent contractors that are the key to the quality of forest harvesting operations, is a major focus. Learn more.
SFI Implementation Committee Contact
Director, SFI Program Participant Relations