Two weeks ago Maine hosted the annual winter meeting of the New England Society of American Foresters (NESAF). Nearly 450 foresters, wildlife biologists, entomologists, and students traveled to Bangor from across New England to share ideas and talk shop—all in the shadow of Maine’s most famous (albeit fictional) forester, Paul Bunyan.
In the Age of the Internet, professional development opportunities are more accessible than ever before. With so many conferences and webinars out there, what makes NESAF stand out? Here are four reasons why we think NESAF is New England’s most worth-while forestry conference, and why we are already looking forward to 2018:
- A huge variety of topics. This year’s theme was Adapt, Adopt, Advance: Resiliency in Natural Resource Management. A key tenant of the conference was that forests have changed over time and so has the profession of forestry. Foresters, wildlife biologists, and entomologists continue to innovate so they can manage our woods and wildlife with the best and latest scientific knowledge and technology. Presentations and work sessions covered a huge range of topics, from improving forest resiliency to remote sensing technology; the effect of winter ticks on Maine’s moose, to a new program for Wabanki youth melding western philosophies of science and management with the rich Traditional Ecological Knowledge of Maine’s tribes. Whatever your interest, you can learn about it at NESAF.
- Spending time with colleagues—and meeting new ones. The 2017 NESAF meeting wasn’t just for foresters; it was also held in conjunction with the annual meetings of the Maine Chapter of The Wildlife Society and the Northeastern Forest Pest Council. When you bring foresters, wildlife ecologists, entomologists, forest pathologists, and technology experts all together in a room at the same time, exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge, good things are bound to happen. NESAF helps build camaraderie among natural resource professionals (and sometimes a sense of competition—more on that, below!).
- Reliving college rivalries. Ask any NESAF attendee to name one of their favorite events, and there’s a good chance they might say, “Quiz Bowl.” Every year, several New England forestry schools field undergraduate teams who compete in a Jeopardy-style contest, complete with judges, and an audience of conference attendees. Alumni and students alike have fun cheering their alma maters on—or matching their wits against the participants by (silently) attempting to answer questions before the students in the hot-seats.(And by the way, all of the FSM staff who attended NESAF are UMaine alums. Go Blue!)
- Recognizing the best of us. NESAF’s annual awards banquet celebrates the accomplishments and service of both up-and-coming and veteran natural resource professionals. Hearing about their achievements and goals is always inspiring. Congratulations to this year’s award recipients!
This year the Forest Society of Maine had a special reason to love NESAF: the meeting was organized through the efforts of many hardworking volunteers, led in large part by General Chair Kristen Hoffmann, who is one of FSM’s three excellent forestland stewards. Congratulations to Kris and her army of volunteers who made the conference possible. Thanks for a great NESAF 2017—we’ll see you next year in New Hampshire!