Plenary Sessions

OPENING PLENARY | Thursday, October 29

Yeu Nuweekun 

We Dwell Here. We are of this land.

Lorén Spears, Narragansett, will share a blessing in her language (and English) acknowledging the homelands on which the conference was to take place. She will acknowledge the gifts of the land and she will sing the song, Yeu Nuweekun to honor the Elders, the Ancestors and remind us all of the sacrifice of those that came before us who blazed a trail to ensure our sustainability and continuation.

Speaker (click here to read speaker bios)
  • Loren Spears, Executive Director, Tomaquag Museum

Indigenous Environments and Adaptation in the Dawnland

2020 marks 400 years since the Mayflower landed and its passengers settled Plymouth in the Wampanoag homeland of Pawtuxet. Colonization fostered major conflicts and transformations in the Dawnland, including environmental changes, but also led to innovative Indigenous adaptations. The histories written about New England have often focused on the stories of settlers and their conflicts with Native people. But Indigenous communities have also composed tribal histories and literatures which tell a different story. Dr. Brooks will share an Indigenous environmental history of New England, discussing traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and how it shapes Indigenous histories and forest and land management. Her insight will help us better understand the impacts of colonization and colonial forestry on Indigenous homelands and the recovery of Indigenous ecosystems and kinship relations with other-than-human beings. By drawing us into Native space through maps of Indigenous homelands, concepts, and place names drawn from Indigenous languages, we are promised to see this space of New England through an entirely different lens.

Speaker (click here to read speaker bios)
  • Lisa Brooks, Professor of English and American Studies, Amherst College

CLOSING PLENARY | Saturday, October 31

Today's Challenges, Tomorrow's Leaders: Empowering the Next Generation of Forestry Professionals

Students and young professionals are future leaders who face unprecedented challenges that extend beyond traditional natural resource sciences, including climate change, social values, and calls to diversify the fields. Acquiring, practicing, and implementing leadership skills are necessary for overcoming these challenges. In this session, panelists representing universities, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, and students will focus on how to prepare leaders for 21st Century challenges. The discussion will encompass a wide range of topics, including communication, cultural immersion, conflict resolution, adaptability, resilience, maintaining balance, and effective leadership styles. This session is designed to foster discussion and reflection, and the participants can expect to leave with practical strategies for enhancing leadership skills.

Speakers (click here to read speaker bios )

  • Kathy Abusow, President and CEO, Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters
  • Jasmine Brown, Graduate Student, Michigan State University Department of Forestry 
  • Greg Ina, Vice President and General Manager, Davey Institute, Davey Tree Company
  • Renita Marshall, Vice Chancellor and Associate Dean, College of Agriculture, Environment, and Human Science, Southern University and A&M College
  • Dr. Zhu Hua Ning, Chair, SAF Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and Chair,Urban Forestry, Environment, and Natural Resources Department, Southern University and A&M College