The Rob Olszewski Fellowship

Forest Policy & Analysis

The Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy & Analysis

The ONLY fellowship in the country that focuses future professionals in career development in policy and research that impacts the success of ownership and management of private forests.

Rob Olszewski’s passing left a substantial gap in advocacy efforts on behalf of private forest landowners. Few natural resources professionals have the training, knowledge, and support to pursue a forest policy path in their careers.

Rob Olszewski’s legacy was his dedication to helping sustain America’s private forest lands. In honor of his work and tireless pursuit to accomplish this purpose, the Forest Landowner Foundation established the Rob Olszewski Forest Policy and Analysis Program to carry on the passion that he brought to ensuring the economic health and viability of private forests.

There is an overwhelming void in preparing the next generation of forestry professionals to engage meaningfully in the formation of sound, science-based forest policy. If, as an industry, we are to effectively influence forest policy we must develop natural resource managers with traits like Rob Olszewski possessed – a combination of good science, effective communication skills, and an understanding of how essential policy is to resource management and viable forest businesses.

Under the Rob O. program, FLF is launching three new initiatives focused on the next generation of forestry professionals.

About the Fellowship

The Rob O. Fellowship focuses on providing undergraduate and graduate students in the field of natural resources real-life and practical experience in policy related to forest management and ownership. Fellows research, learn about, and engage in the development of public policy as it relates forest markets, regulations, and general ownership and management.

Qualified students interested in a career in forest policy are awarded 6 months to 1-year paid fellowships. Available to undergraduate and graduate students, the fellowship provides funding for forest policy activities and research, exposing students to forest policy professionals and processes over the course of a year. FLA uses its extensive network of public and private forestry and natural resource professionals to assist Fellows in gaining the knowledge and exposure they seek. This is a truly unique opportunity for students to gain practical experience in forest policy, developing a broad range of skills that they will carry into their future careers while contributing to FLA’s research and policy initiatives.

About Rob Olszewski

A graduate of Michigan Technological University and the University of Georgia, Rob began his career as the state forest hydrologist with the Florida Division of Forestry in 1980. Rob went on to be the Director of Environmental Affairs for Georgia-Pacific and The Timber Company, and ultimately, the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at Plum Creek from 2001 to 2015. His greatest contributions, however, came through the substantial committee work he did for the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the National Council of Air and Stream Improvement, the Forest Landowners Association, the Forest History Society and the Society of American Foresters.

Most of his forty-year career was spent working on forest and environmental policy issues through committees that addressed policy. What separated Rob from many of his peers during these endeavors was his commitment to policy based on science and fact, not emotion. His breadth of knowledge on forest hydrology, forest management, wildlife, and landscape planning always contributed to the discussions. That characteristic, coupled with a strong positive outlook, made Rob a great colleague and extraordinary policy analyst.






Inaugural Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy and Analysis Recipient Announced

The Forest Landowner Foundation is proud to announce the inaugural recipient of the Rob O fellowship: Lauren Kate Ward of the University of Georgia. You might have met Lauren at our conference in Virginia Beach last year or participated in her research by completing a survey about private forest landowners and the Endangered Species Act.

A doctoral candidate at Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, Mrs. Ward authored and issued a survey aimed at better understanding the attitudes private landowners have about endangered species and the Endangered Species Act. She commented that there was a great need for the study and it was important because the issue thus far hasn’t been studied.

“When we looked into the research in this area, we found that there had never really been a comprehensive study addressing the private forest landowners’ perspective on endangered species conservation and the disincentives that are out there under the Endangered Species Act,” Ward said.

Ward approached the Forest Landowners Association about distributing a link to the survey to its members. The response to the survey was a pleasant surprise for Ward. “We didn’t know how many respondents we would be able to get,” Ward said. “At the end of the day we had over 1100 respondents who filled out our survey, which was a number that was far and above our expectations.”

Our research shows that private forest landowners really care about wildlife conservation. It is a very important land management objective that they have,” Ward said. “On the other hand they have fairly negative attitudes toward the Endangered Species Act.”

Ward offered that she feels it important to the ongoing discussion about wildlife conservation to lay these two realities side by side. “This survey starts to paint the picture for your average American citizen of what’s going wrong with the Endangered Species Act on the ground on private lands today,” she said.

Ward stressed that the support of the Forest Landowners Association was integral to the success of the survey effort.

“The FLA’s participation really helped make our project more meaningful and a real advancement in the research in this area,” she said.

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