Speaker rekindles thoughts on land, people and respect

Jul 2, 2024 | Author: Mike Barsotti, LCSWA President | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

President's column

Mark Swanson is the new OSU College of Forestry’s associate professor and Starker Chair of Family Forestry. He was introduced as the keynoter at the 2024 Family Forests Convention held June 14 in Lebanon. Swanson follows Tammy Cushing, who has moved back to her home state Florida.

He shared thoughts on the importance each of us play in our relationship with others by highlighting the powerful influence a professor had on his personal and professional life.

Mark Swanson speaking

Mark Swanson, Associate Professor at OSU College of Forestry and Starker Chair of Family Forestry. Photo by Mike Barsotti.

His presentation got me thinking about who has impacted me personally and professionally. My parents provided the foundation, not with what they said but with how they lived their lives day to day.

I spent most of the first half of my 32 years with the Oregon Department of Forestry working one-on-one with family forest landowners wanting to improve their woodlands, and some of these landowners are the ones who come to mind when thinking of who has influenced me.

It was my working with several of these folks that drew my wife and I to becoming landowners nurturing a forest. Who were these people that made me feel so honored to just know them, and why did they influence me?

I think the two most attractive traits were wisdom and humility. My job as a service forester was to share what I knew about growing a forest. While I might have known a bit more about growing Douglas-fir, the way they approached life seemed much more important.

Those that made a lasting impression on me came from a wide variety of backgrounds. Some were college-educated professionals. Others were landowners making a living managing their land. What they had in common was that I wanted to be like them. They were people with positive attitudes. They made me feel accepted and appreciated for what little I could offer them.

The individual Swanson highlighted was someone that apparently lived his life caring about people and all that lived on the land. Those are the traits of the people who have made me feel honored to have known and guide me — people that in so many simple little ways show a respect of others and all that live on the land.

Mike Barsotti, President, Linn County Small Woodlands Association

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