The Future of SAF: William Griffin

January 15, 2020

Continuing with our profiles of up-and-coming SAF members, this month The Forestry Source features William Griffin. Griffin is a graduate student at Mississippi State University (MSU); he received an undergraduate degree from MSU in forest resources. He was the 2017–2018 chapter president of the MSU SF student chapter, and at the 2019 SAF National Convention, Griffin received the Student Leadership Award.

In his own words, Griffin shares why all sectors of the forestry profession need recognition and the value of leadership.

William Griffin: The Value of Leadership
By William Griffin 

To be truthful, I came to study forestry quite by accident. My mom and I attended the Mississippi State University (MSU) College of Forest Resources preview day in February 2015, and at that event, I learned that forestry graduates work outside, and that they had outstanding job placement rates. This was enough for me. Not knowing much more than that, I enrolled in the forestry program at MSU in August 2015. Luckily for me, I ended up liking forestry. I developed a deep passion for the forest industry, as I grew to understand how it provides so many necessities for our daily lives.

I had the opportunity to complete internships with two companies during my time as a forestry undergraduate. During these internships, I gained an interest in forest-products manufacturing. This led me to pursue positions related to procurement forestry, as I looked toward graduation in May 2018. However, one more opportunity arose toward the end of my last semester: graduate school in the College of Forest Resources, studying forest products in the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts. As I looked into this position, I saw it was the best opportunity for me and my wife going forward.

My time in graduate school has given me a clearer picture of how all parts of the forest industry work together. I’ve met various stakeholders, including mill managers, supervisors, and company owners. I’ve also taken classes in business and logistics, which has been very valuable experience. Currently, I am working on a project related to facility location for lumber mills that we hope will show why Mississippi is an attractive place for investments in the forest products–manufacturing industry.

Upon graduation, I will be a representative for a grading agency for softwood lumber. While this is not a traditional forestry job, what I have learned about silviculture, harvesting practices, and operations will certainly apply to my work. This is an excellent opportunity to put all I have learned about working with people and about forest-products manufacturing to use, as I ensure that the lumber being produced by mills matches the grade assigned to it.

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