Two years ago, the Sustainable Forestry and African American Land Retention Program (SFLR) transitioned from the U.S. Endowment to the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and a talented Business Major from Mississippi State University, TyKeidra Young, came to the organization as a summer intern to learn more about the program.
TyKeidra didn’t know the first thing about forestry or agriculture, but she was dedicated to learning more about the legal solutions that SFLR provides to landowners and assisting landowners impacted by the program. During her time at AFF, she was introduced to partners and colleagues throughout the forest sector which helped her grow her understanding of the important work being done by America’s family forest owners to increase the conservation impact of their land.
By the end of her internship experience, TyKeidra had become a tremendous advocate for the SFLR program, having visited landowners, arranged advocacy visits, worked on federal grants and much more. Her excitement for the work fueled her desire to continue working for AFF where she would be able to continue showing others the power of land ownership.
Today, TyKeidra works as AFF’s Southern Conservation Coordinator supporting the work being done to empower family forest owners to protect essential wildlife habitats through sustainable forestry management.
“I did not anticipate the journey to be this enlightening, but working with the programs, such as the USFWS (US Fish & Wildlife Service) Habitat Improvement Program helped me understand some of the many critical and notable barriers to landowners preventing landowners from taking action, including eligibility requirements. This has opened my eyes to seeing that there are diverse ways to empower underserved communities and different opportunities in that field that I can pursue. I am still thinking about pursuing criminal law, but given my experiences at AFF, I would like to study environmental law.”
The work that TyKeidra and her team are doing is essential to protecting many of the country’s at-risk plant and animal species that depend on private and family-owned forestland for protection, nest sites, migratory corridors and foraging opportunities.
This holiday season, you can make a gift to support the important work that Tykeidra and AFF are doing to increase forest owner engagement, overcome the barriers to active forest management, and improve wildlife habitat.
Learn more about the meaningful ways you can support this important work.
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