Well hey der, y’all! My name is Ben Parsons, and I’d like to let you know just how excited I am to be joining the FISTA family! You may also be wondering why my initial greeting was so, well, odd. So get comfortable in your easy chair or warm cab of your pick-up as I try to explain.
I am originally from West “By God”, Virginia as they say in that part of the Appalachian Mountains. Being raised in a rural agricultural community, my family farm produced beef cattle; we raised our own vegetables, cut and sold pulpwood and saw timber, as well as heated our home exclusively with a variety of oaks, hickories & maple. Without a doubt, this deeply rooted philosophy of living off the land was monumental in deciding to earn my degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University.
It was there in Morgantown, WV where I seized the opportunity to learn about the wide variety of forest types, management techniques and challenges facing the forest products industry. Obviously, the Central Appalachian Hardwood Forests were the main focus of my studies, however, high elevation sites in this diverse area enabled my classmates and I to encounter the aspen, spruce, fir, northern hardwood and pine forests found here in the Great Lakes region. Fast forward over ten years; the emerging challenges and opportunities discussed then are now hitting our industry in full force.
Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to tackle a wide variety of assignments. I’ve measured Forest Inventory and Analysis research plots in Virginia and Georgia, been involved with urban and utility forestry operations throughout the Appalachian region, procured lowland hardwood timber in the swamps of South Georgia, managed logging contracts and harvest operations in Arkansas and specialized in water quality and harvest planning as well as fighting forest fires in Virginia. I even played a small, sobering, part in the recovery of the space shuttle, Columbia. A disaster that sadly claimed the lives of seven courageous Americans over Texas skies on February 1, 2003. Most recently, however, I filled the role of Project Forester for Oneida County, WI.
I have been blessed with three adorable children including a set of three year old twins; one boy and one girl. Let me just say, those little badgers keep me on my toes! My oldest daughter is a Texan by birth, but loves Wisconsin winters (Must be her mother’s Wisconsinite blood) Most importantly, all three are HUGE Packer fans!
Speaking of Wisconsin winters, I have to say that the most repeated question that I’ve heard in the last year is “So how do you like the winter here?” Well, before you have the chance to ask me once we meet face to face, let me just answer you now by saying, “I LOVE IT”! Although not quite as long, the winters in West Virginia can be almost as harsh. With the 2011-2012 winter upon us, I am looking forward to spending what little bit of free time I have to snowmobiling, snow shoeing, learning how to cross country ski and trying to catch fish through a hole in the ice, (someone once told me it was like fishing in a barrel, but I’ve been lied to before, ha-ha).
That’s enough about me; now let’s get down to business. FISTA was established to be a resource for you, the hard working timber professional. In addition to providing educational resources for maintaining SFI certification requirements, FISTA has committed to providing diverse training to help you make your business safer and more successful. To improve upon this service to you, I will strive to offer more class and workshop choices that are current and more in depth for those of you seeking fresh, relevant information at a fair and affordable cost. In addition, I hope to help FISTA offer options better suited your business and family schedule.
To do this, I will be seeking your input. In the future, be looking for periodic surveys in the FISTA Report section of TPA magazine that you can tear out, fill in and mail back to me. I hope that you will take advantage of communication tools like this, as well as class evaluations to provide your sincere feedback. Who knows, you may even win a prize for your participation! Your honest opinions will help me to provide the information and resources you need for success.
Keep in mind, FISTA is here to promote YOU as a safe and successful timber professional. Helping to meet your safety and educational needs is my number one priority here at FISTA. I look forward to meeting you all face to face in the future, so until then, here’s hoping you had a wonderful 2011 and wishing you a safe and prosperous 2012! See you soon …there don’tcha know ..eh! (Meanwhile, I’ll be practicing my Northwoods communication skills!)