The Future of SAF: Emily Barrett

July 22, 2020

Continuing with profiles of up-and-coming SAF members who will continue managing our nation’s natural resources in the coming decades, this month The Forestry Source features Emily Barrett. In May 2020, Barrett earned an undergraduate degree in forest resource management and in leadership studies from the Corps of Cadets from Virginia Tech. This fall she will begin work toward a master’s degree in forest operations and engineering at Virginia Tech. A 2019 SAF Diversity Scholar, she joined SAF in 2018 and is a member of the Appalachian SAF.

In her own words, Barrett shares how Virginia’s outdoors inspired her to become a forester and a steward of the state’s forests.

Marveling at the Complexity of Forests
By Emily Barrett

Why I decided to study forestry

I was born and raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bedford County, Virginia. Growing up in such a beautiful area has shaped my love for God’s greatest creation—trees. I have always marveled at the beauty of trees and, especially, the magnificent complexity of forests. In these forests, I enjoy all types of outdoor recreation, such as hiking, hunting, fishing, kayaking, and nature watching. I have always had the affinity to be a steward of our natural resources, and Virginia Tech was the best place I could receive my education. Virginia Tech is also one of the top colleges in the nation for natural resources and environmental management.

The value of belonging to SAF

Being a member of the Society of American Foresters throughout my time as an undergraduate helped me shape my career aspirations and goals, and taught me forester ethics and networking and professional skills that I know will greatly benefit my future. I look forward to continuing membership throughout graduate school and my career. I have been fortunate enough to attend Appalachian SAF annual meetings twice, and last year I attended the SAF National Convention in Louisville as a Diversity Scholar. At every conference, I learn more about various career paths, as well as current practices and science, and get to meet great people! I am very grateful that I got to participate as a Diversity Scholar at the national convention because I greatly benefitted from the conversations and strong mentorships that still continue.

My career aspirations

My dream career is to work with Virginia landowners to reverse the damage caused by the high grading of our Virginia forests, and this work can only be done with widespread public knowledge and action of sound scientific silviculture practices. I would love to work for a state or federal land management bureau, such as the Virginia Department of Forestry or the US Forest Service.

Emily Barrett can be reached at

SAF members can read the full July 2020 edition of The Forestry Source here.