Family Forest Blog

The Future Is Now

Rita Hite

January 26, 2022

Rita Hite-Headshot-2

I officially put my boots on the ground as president and CEO of the American Forest Foundation earlier this month and I am filled with a sense of optimism for the future. 

Optimism for America’s family forest owners. 

Optimism for our organization. 

And optimism for our planet. 

Having grown up on a beef cattle farm in Upstate New York, I know first-hand the sweat and tears it takes to tend to the land. But I also know the joy and pride that comes from doing it well, and seeing the ripple effect in our communities and the larger ecosystem. 

At the American Forest Foundation, we know that family forest owners have long made vital contributions to our nation’s conservation efforts and that, with the right support, we can do even more for our environment and our economy — all while giving family forest owners the opportunity to achieve their own goals.

While there are many issues today — from wildfire mitigation to biodiversity protection to rural economic issues — that family forest owners can have an outsized impact on, there’s one that speaks louder than the others: climate change. 

Our planet is hungry for action to mitigate the effects of climate change and family forest owners — who care for the largest portion of America’s forests — are a key part of that solution.

Our planet is hungry for action to mitigate the effects of climate change and family forest owners — who care for the largest portion of America’s forests — are a key part of that solution. Further, by impacting climate change, we can generate needed support for family forest owners to achieve their goals.  

I am honored to take the helm at AFF at this critical moment. Many organizations are working diligently toward important conservation goals from many angles, but what AFF brings to the table is a unique ability to help family forest owners take stewardship actions to unlock the conservation benefits of their land. Through innovative solutions and partnerships, we’re tackling climate change, and other issues, and producing measurable value in ways that actively support American family forest owners.

After 20 plus years in this arena, I am privileged to continue to work with and learn from a diverse group of colleagues, partners and friends that are getting this done. Your input, passion, expertise and dedication to the mission have brought us to this moment in time, and I’m inspired to continue our work in the coming months and years.

The potential in America’s family-owned forests to make a measurable impact on the planet is huge. I invite you to join me and the American Forest Foundation as we unlock that potential, continue to scale our efforts and support American family forest owners from all walks of life. 

My optimism for America’s family forest owners, our organization and our planet will not fade. There is a lot of work to do, of course, but I’m confident we, alongside our many partners on the ground, in Washington, and in boardrooms and statehouses across the country, are on the right path. The future is now, my friends.

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