Newsletter Stories

Wednesday, 24 April 2024
Growing Natural Resource Careers K to 60

By Thomas Kain, Senior Manager FM Certification Markets

The 2024 Kentucky Forest Industries annual meeting was held in Lexington, Kentucky, from April 2nd to 4th. This year's attendance was the highest ever. This annual meeting brings sawmills, loggers, landowners, foresters, university staff, extension educators, and more together for a few days every April. The meeting is a good mix of various presentations and a time to see what meeting sponsors offer at their booths. One of the attendees at this year’s meeting was Stephanie Fuller, the Director of Promotions and Economic Development at the Forest Workforce Training Institute.

Stephanie attended to support the Kentucky launch of a program called ForestryWorks. ForestryWorks® is a workforce development program started in Alabama in 2018 ( It is a collaborative effort between the Forest Workforce Training Institute and various partners within the forest industry to develop a pipeline of qualified workers for the nation’s forestry and forest products manufacturing industries. It educates students, parents, and teachers about career opportunities in the forest industry while providing pathways for students and job seekers to start their future careers in the industry. This program has been adopted in several states, including Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Kentucky. The Forest Workforce Training Institute has been a great mentor in assisting the new States in establishing their programs and advancing the goals of the Institute.

Stephanie grew up in a multi-generational logging family. She is a proud graduate of Auburn University, where she studied Agricultural Business and Economic Development. Stephanie has authored three forestry-themed children's books in a growing series called the Tiny Timber Crew. Her first book was “Lucy Meets A Logger” published in 2021. Stephanie wrote the forestry-themed children’s books to advocate for the good work forestry professionals do across the supply chain. Growing up in a logging family, she had a nightly front seat at the dinner table to learn why loggers chose logging as a career and the negative perceptions about the work. Logging is a mentally and physically demanding job. It can be a dangerous occupation because the work is performed outdoors under various weather and environmental conditions. Loggers are up and going to work before sunrise and return home often after dark. For small business owners, the night is when the business side of the workday can begin. This upbringing taught Stephanie the value of hard work and how important it is to give back. Stephanie has written two other children’s books “Travis Visits A Tree Farm” and “Sam Visits A Sawmill.” The children’s books aim to cover the forestry supply chain. More information about the children's books can be found at

Forestry Associations bring together the full spectrum of the forestry supply chain in one place to discuss issues and solve common problems. Programs like ForestryWorks® are tackling the serious workforce development issues that the industry is facing and providing innovative, effective solutions. Stephanie works a second shift at night like her family. Her second shift involves educating the children about forestry with her forestry-themed books.