In 2023, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) launched a new strategic direction and welcomed three outstanding individuals to our board of trustees. Weaving their unique perspectives and hard-earned wisdom into the AFF tapestry, these new voices are set to help us tackle climate change and bolster the health of America's family forests for generations to come. Stay tuned as each board member takes center stage in this special Q&A blog series that highlights their distinct experiences and expertise.
We're especially excited to introduce Jasmine Brown. Joining the AFF board of trustees in 2023, Brown is a dynamic forestry scholar currently pursuing a doctorate in forestry at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on the enduring histories of African Americans in forests and the forestry profession. She was featured in “Black Faces in Green Spaces: The Journeys of Black Professionals in Green Careers” and holds a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from the University of Connecticut along with a master’s degree in forest ecosystems and society from Oregon State University.
A Conversation with Jasmine Brown
AFF: First of all, a big hats-off on joining the AFF board of trustees. Can you share what drew you to AFF?
JB: There has been an increasing amount of interest and innovation surrounding nature-based climate solutions. AFF recognizes the unique potential of family forest landowners with regards to climate mitigation strategies. Overall, I was drawn to serve on AFF’s board of trustees due to AFF’s preceding advocacy for private forest landowners, Rita Hite’s leadership style and the opportunity to learn more about climate-smart forest management practices.
AFF: We seek out and highly value diverse perspectives. Given your wealth of life experiences, professional skills and unique knowledge, what distinct perspectives would you say you contribute to our mission?
JB: My professional and educational experiences support my attuned focus on the social dimensions of forest conservation and management. My previous career experience enables me to ask critical questions such as “who’s story isn’t being told?” or “who’s lived experience isn’t being represented?” Issues of power, representation and equity lie at the center of my work and I bring that lens to my role as a member of AFF’s board.
AFF: As an individual with considerable expertise in the forestry field, which facets of our mission do you think we need to emphasize and address with urgency in the upcoming years?
JB: The importance of family forest owners to future climate-smart solutions. There’s no reason we should continue to overlook the collective potential of family forest owners. Addressing the challenges that are particular to underserved and limited-resource landowners is also of utmost importance to make sure that marginalized landowners are not left behind or left out.
AFF: Often, the road to a career in forestry seems like uncharted terrain for many women of color. Do you have any words of encouragement or practical advice for other women of color embarking on a career in forestry or the study of forestry?
JB: Know that you are walking on the shoulders of giants. Meaning, there were individuals who came before you (yes, that includes women of color!) that made a way for you to have a fulfilling career in forestry. While there is much work to be done to elevate the stories of women of color in conservation, know that you are not alone. Pave your own path with as many meanders, zig zags, twists and turns as you deem fit. I never would have imagined that my vegetable garden in my mom’s backyard in Bridgeport, Connecticut would lead to me being a forest technician with the U.S. Forest Service, which has currently led me to pursue my Doctorate in Forestry at Michigan State University.
AFF: Lastly, just for fun, could you share your all-time favorite forest activity with our readers?
JB: Hiking and exploring new trails are my favorite forest activities. In July, I was able to go hiking at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky. There are so many more state/national parks and forests that I hope to visit one day!
Thank you to all of our board members for being an integral part of our mission to deliver meaningful conservation impact through the empowerment of family forest owners. Your unique stories remind us how individual perspectives and efforts can unite to create meaningful impact for America's family forests, our communities and the planet. Check back for our next post in the series as we continue this important dialogue.
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