Family Forest Blog

#AFFWomen: Aimee Tomcho

American Forest Foundation

March 12, 2024

We're excited to take another year to highlight #AFFWomen during Women's History Month. The powerful voices of women at AFF work tirelessly to improve our forests, support American landowners, and benefit our communities. They hail from different backgrounds and have unique stories to tell — but they all share the goal of leaving our planet better and healthier than we found it.

In our first 2024 edition of #AFFWomen, we're highlighting Aimee Tomcho. Aimee is our Senior Forestry Manager for the Family Forest Carbon Program. She works with families across the Southeast and has played an important role in cultivating the success of our Field to Forest project.

#AFFWomen Aimee Tomcho American Forest Foundation

How/why did you choose to work in forest conservation? 

I believe forests are one of our most important assets as Americans. Whether you look to trees for wildlife habitat, wood products, pollution mitigation, native medicinals, or your own mental health, we are all positively impacted by the woodlands around us. Dedicating my time to forest conservation will continue a legacy begun much earlier than my life and will last long after I am gone. This far-reaching and collective impact for so many people, places, and creatures of all sorts is why I choose to work in forest conservation.

What’s your favorite part of your career/job? 

I love that my work provides me with a pathway to integrate myself into and better understand local communities. Sometimes it’s local communities of trees and sometimes it’s local communities of people but it’s always rewarding. To be able to see the larger impact but work on a community level is my favorite part of all!

Why is it important for women to be involved in forest conservation? 

Women are catalysts for change. Women see things holistically, are caregivers, and tend to think beyond regimens and old processes. Women also have the power to change the dialogue about forestry as we communicate differently about challenges and solutions. Furthermore, the population of women forest owners is growing! Women are responsible for decisions being made on 44 million acres of our nation’s forestland. Empowering them to be confident and capable of forest management is essential. As more women stand up to learn about forestry, we realize there are more of us that we previously  knew existed. We need all hands on deck as we face climate change. A diverse community is a stronger community.

In your opinion what needs to change, or what needs to be done, to increase women's involvement in forest conservation work? 

Organizations in the forest and forest products sector need to enact the Resolutions set forth by the first inaugural Women’s Forest Congress in 2022. Let’s foster workforce opportunities and broaden recruitment practices to include wider networks. Let’s build workplaces that support wellness, creativity, and heart-centered decision-making. Safe working environments increase retention and productivity! And importantly, we must assess and rectify current compensation discrepancies and promote pathways to pay equity. So often, a business can claim safe and equitable actions but below the surface lies gross pay inequities and poor promotion potential that speak that organization’s truth. Let’s work to uncover the unseen in workplace discrimination. I can say from personal experience that encouraging us to voice our concerns is not enough to make a difference. We must do better than to make the oppressed carry that burden. We need internal allies, including a strong cohort of men, who stand up to call out those inequities without fear.

Do you have a woman role model in the forest, conservation, or environmental space? Who is it and why? 

Until I was well into my professional career, I did not know another woman in forestry. I attribute my inspiration and determination to find my way in a male-dominated space to the strong female family members in my life, most notably my paternal grandmother. Now I am grateful to work with many wonderful and intelligent female forestry and wildlife professionals and they ALL inspire me!

What advice would you give to women looking to pursue a career in forest conservation? 

There’s a place for you! Find a community who will support you in your journey. Get outside and learn with your own hands, boots on the ground, and sweat on your brow. It won’t always be easy, but I predict you won’t regret a minute of it regardless of the path on which you eventually find yourself.

What's your favorite tree? 

Bald Cypress 

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Aimee Tomcho stands in front of a lush forested stand in summer sunlight at a West Virginia retreat with AFF Staff.

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