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The Rising Professionals conference will include a welcome reception, networking breaks and lunches, general keynote sessions, live demos, and three tracks of focus: sector technology, building soft skills, and entrepreneurship/building your brand. Conference attendance is limited to 200 attendees.

The program is currently being evaluated for CFEs. 

The following schedule is preliminary and subject to change. Please check often for updates (as of January 25, 2024).  
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Meet and Greet for Innovation Challenge
For participants and mentors enrolled in the conference's challenge. Learn more about the Innovation Challenge below. 
 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Networking Welcome Reception
Wednesday, February 7, 2024
 8:00 am – 9:30 am Welcome/General Session
Keynote Speaker:
Scot McQueen, Forest Stewardship Council
 9:30 am – 10:30 am Break with Exhibitors and Demos
 10:30 am – 11:30 am Breakout: Current Tech Trends in the Sector
Speaker: Bruce Ripley, University of Idaho
 10:30 am – 11:30 am Breakout: Communicating as a Forestry and Natural Resources Professional
Speaker: Curtis VanderSchaaf, Mississippi State University Extension Service
 11:30 am – 1:00 pm Networking Lunch (lunch provided)
 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  Breakout: A GIS Perspective on Forest Inventory

Speaker: John Lovette, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  Breakout: Leading Up: How to Make a Difference When You’re Not the One in Charge
Delie Wilkins, US Endowment for Forestry and Communities; and Bethany Wilkinson, Forest and Wood Products Inclusion Council
 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm  Break with Exhibitors and Demos
 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Breakout: Innovations in Drone Technology 
Speakers: Budo Ratkovic, IVM Solutions; Johnny Thompson, Landmark Spatial Solutions
 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Breakout: Expanding Professional Networking Skills
 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm  Closing General Session: Leadership in Forestry and the Sector
Jason Holland and Tim Holland
Thursday, February 8, 2024
 8:00 am – 9:30 am Opening General Session: Panel: Managing Change and Career Growth
Speaker: Nathan Davila, Davey Resource Group
 9:30 am – 10:30 am Break with Exhibitors and Demos
 10:30 am – 11:30 am Breakout: Case Study: The Tech Founder's Story
Speaker: Elizabeth Hunter, Treeswift
 10:30 am – 11:30 am Breakout: Mentoring as a Young Professional
Speaker: James Williams, Center for Heirs' Property Preservation
 11:30 am – 1:00 pm Networking Lunch (lunch provided)
  1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  Breakout: The Evolution and Lessons Learned of Tech in the Sector
Speaker: Stephen Logan, F&W Forestry
  1:00 pm – 2:00 pm  Breakout: Innovations in Leadership and Outreach
Speaker: Logan Johnson, Maine TREE
  2:00 pm – 3:00 pm  Break with Exhibitors and Demos
  3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Breakout: Interactive Session: What's the Direction of Forestry Tech?
Speakers: Eli Jensen, Ironwood Forestry; Brandon Craft, TreeSwift
  3:00 pm – 4:00 pm  Breakout: Diversity in Career Paths Panel
Speakers: James Williams, Center for Heirs' Property Preservation; Pipiet Larasatie, University of Arkansas at Monticello
  4:00 pm – 5:30 pm  Closing General Session: Nontraditional Pathways to Leadership
Elizabeth Hunter, Treeswift

Innovation Challenge

If you are looking for an interactive way to attend the conference, participate in the Innovation Challenge. The Innovation Challenge will focus on building leadership and teamwork skills, as well as learning about new technology and innovations in the industry.

Challenge DescriptionParticipants will be asked to design an elevator pitch with 3-4 other teammates (assigned by SAF National before the conference) to promote a new product, idea, or tool that was discovered at the conference to be used by their company. Teams will engage with exhibitors, other attendees, and mentors throughout the conference to develop their 1-3-minute pitch and present it in video format during the conference. A group of judges will choose five finalists from the submissions and ask attendees to choose a winner during the final general session on Thursday.

Attendees interested in participating should choose the option when registering for the conference or contact the SAF Events & Sales team at [email protected].