The Southern Group of State Foresters’ (SGSF) Communications Committee held its annual summer meeting in Charleston, S.C., July 25-28 to review and update its strategic plan for the coming year and begin work on several new regional outreach projects promoting forestry and its contributions to communities throughout the southern U.S. The committee was hosted by the South Carolina Forestry Commission.

In addition to making final recommendations on several grant proposals related to communications infrastructure, metrics, training and professional development, the committee heard reports from its liaisons to other SGSF committees and established the framework for a series of broad forestry education and outreach videos that will begin to take shape over the next year.

“This was one of our most productive meetings in recent memory, mainly because of our ambitious agenda,” said outgoing committee chair Wendy Burnett, director of public relations for the Georgia Forestry Commission. “I believe our work this week set the tone for a creative outpouring of messaging that will not only strengthen SGSF’s position as the leader of forestry-related issues in the South, but also raise awareness of forestry’s importance in the public consciousness.”

Prime among the committee’s special projects in the next year is a Forest Inventory and Analysis video that will tout the benefits of the 88-year-old FIA program, whose annual census data is used extensively by civic leaders, community planners and industry to make long-term decisions regarding, among other things, wood production and utilization rates. The video will be leveraged to garner more financial support from elected officials and congressional budget leaders.

New to this year’s meeting was a special day-and-a-half session for each of the 13 southern states’ conservation education/outreach coordinators, who met for the first time to share ideas, best practices and success stories. Incoming committee chair Tim Phelps, Tennessee Division of Forestry’s communications and outreach unit leader, presided over the special session and hopes to continue to bring these coordinators together on a regular basis.

From the Southern Group Of State Foresters: http://www.southernforests.org/new-and-noteworthy/sgsf-communications-committee-unveils-ambitious-agenda-at-2016-summer-meeting