Society of American Foresters Report: Seeing the forest for the tweets


I wish I could take credit for that headline, but it’s not mine. I borrowed it from my colleagues Carlin Starrs and Tom Davidson, who have written an article entitled, ‘Seeing the Forest for the Tweets: Making the Most Out of the Convention Using Twitter’; the convention being the Society of American Foresters’ National Convention, to be held October 24–28 in Spokane, Washington. Starrs’ is SAF’s social media guru; Davidson, a forester and leadership consultant (, writes the SAF Leader Lab column for The Forestry Source, SAF’s newspaper.


While many natural-resource professionals are technology-savvy to some degree, others haven’t yet fully embraced Twitter, Facebook, and other new-fangled forms of communication. Thus, while the convention will focus on “Resilient Forests,” SAF aims to use social media to engage members in new ways — ways that are unfamiliar to some foresters — to help them explore and perhaps take part in discussions on that main theme.


First lesson: using hashtags in Twitter.


“SAF has adopted use of the hashtag “#SAF2012” for this year’s convention,” write Starrs and Davidson. “This means that any twitter post related to convention, whether it’s news about presenters, exhibitors, career opportunities, or special events, will contain the phrase #SAF2012. This will allow anyone interested in news about convention to search for #SAF2012 and instantly see posts from anyone who has news or questions about the convention. SAF staff will also be using the #SAF2012 hashtag during the convention to provide rapid-fire updates about last minute adjustments that may take place, including changes in event locations, times, and so on.”


Starrs and Davidson also will lead a series of “Twitter Training” workshops designed to provide hands-on instruction, explain how Twitter differs from other social media, and show why it is a useful tool to have in a changing world. Armed with this training and Twitter on their smart phones or tablet computers, attendees will be able to join “virtual conversations” during convention sessions.


For my part, I’ll encourage SAF members to join LinkedIn, a social networking website designed primarily for, but not limited to, people in professional occupations, forestry included. The discussions within the SAF group on LinkedIn have been lively of late, with topics such as “Can forest conservation and logging be reconciled?” and “Pursuing the ‘locally produced’ idea when discussing harvesting with the public.” One question posed by a LinkedIn member—“Spent the weekend in the beautiful Canaan Valley in WV. While there I was asked if, as a forester, my goal was to cut down all the trees. Curious to hear how you respond to those kinds of questions?”—has drawn more than 30 responses, so far, all of them comprising a thoughtful dialogue. You don’t have to be an SAF member to participate. Just go to and search for the Society of American Foresters group. By the way, Silviculture Magazine has a presence on LinkedIn, too, as well as on Facebook.


By the way, you don’t have to be an SAF member to attend the convention. Spokane isn’t all that far away, for those of you in B.C. and Alberta, and one presentation in particular may make the journey worth your while. Ken Zielke, a principal of Symmetree Consulting Group Ltd., a B.C.-based firm, will discuss “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategy for the Kamloops Timber Supply Area” (see Symmetree and a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia have assessed the prospects for meeting multiple objectives and managing ecosystem processes on the highly diverse six-million-acre management unit, given the uncertainties of the future regional and global climate.


That’s certainly something to Tweet about.


Steve Wilent is editor of The Forestry Source, the monthly newspaper of the Society of American Foresters. He also is a forestry and natural resources instructor at Mt. Hood Community College, in Gresham, Oregon. Contact him at 503-622-3033 or [email protected].