Future of SAF: Marley Smith 

September 4, 2019 

Tying in with The Forestry Source's communication and outreach theme, this month we feature Marley Smith. A 2018 SAF Diversity Scholar and undergraduate at Colorado State University (CSU), Smith represents the US Forest Service as its student ambassador for the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship and was a 2018–2019 officer for CSU’s Alpha Chapter of SAF. These roles have allowed her to develop life-altering connections with individuals across the globe, as well as become an active voice that supports the acknowledgment and recognition of all who are connected to the land and natural resources.

In her own words, Smith describes her path toward forestry, stewardship, and communication.

As one who descends from an ancient lineage rooted in Hawai’i while having been born and raised among the open fields of Colorado’s Wild West, the connections of earth and spirit transparent to kanaka maoli (Native Hawaiians) live throughout my physical, mental, and spiritual being. The traditional and modern forms of our peoples’ dance, known as Hula, have always been my guide, protector, and source of identity—Hula represents the voice and language of Hawai’i Nei and has taught me discipline, studious work ethic, and encouragement to progress toward a brighter future.

To begin my exploration in higher education, I departed on a two-year journey to Windward Community College in Kāne’ohe, O’ahu of academics and cultural comprehension to build a deeper connection within myself and the living world, using the ideals, practices, and the spirit of my ancestors. Over the ocean waters far and wide, I discovered a world that presented an entirely new truth of kanaka maoli based on the times of the past, the issues of the present, and the visions for the future. History is my source of knowledge to build a balanced future and Hula as my cultural foundation toward instilling the lifestyle of Hawai’i.

These ideals and perspectives have placed me in a position that is a part of a diverse population marginalized by the greater society. I share a similar history with those who identify with various diverse foundations, and as a Hawaiian, it is my kuleana (responsibility) to grow from other sources of knowledge, help others find their origins, and bring back what I have learned to my lands.

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