GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After a summer job working along the Oregon border in California for the U.S. Forest Service, Dave Lewis knew a career in forestry was his calling. With nearly 40 years of forestry experience, Lewis has continued to find the industry to be a rewarding profession.
Lewis will channel his passion for forest management into his new role as vice president of the national Society of American Foresters (SAF).
“Dave has a strong moral and professional character with outstanding leadership skills,” said SAF 2015 president Bob Alverts. “It was a well-informed choice to elect him. He has ideas to move this organization forward and grow it into one that is inclusive, benefits members and will continue to achieve objectives by having the resources with which to do so.”
Previously, Lewis served on the 2012-2014 SAF board of directors representing Florida, Georgia and Alabama. After his first year as SAF vice president, Lewis will serve for another two years on the board of directors as president and immediate past-president. Lewis said he is most looking forward to meeting and working with foresters from all over the country.
“It’s pretty humbling when 11,000-plus of your peers are counting on you to represent the profession,” Lewis said. “I’m a practitioner of the field, and often the people elected to roles like this one are from the academic or governmental sectors of forestry, so I’m an outlier in that respect. I hope to put my experience to work by bringing new ideas [to SAF].”
Two platform areas Lewis wants to address during his term are increasing membership within the organization as well as professionalism within the field of forestry. Due to the recession, SAF membership has declined in the past 10 years and is now beginning to show signs of an uptick. Lewis also hopes to expand certification requirements to all states to address his goal of increased professionalism within the forestry industry.
“I have two laminated copies of these goals at home and work,” Lewis said. “They remind me of what I promised people I would try to do.”
When Lewis first came to the University of Florida, he didn’t quite know what major he wanted to declare. He had always been interested in the outdoors and took an introductory course in forestry as an elective, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Lewis graduated from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences School of Forest Resources and Conservation in 1979.
Lewis is currently vice president and a principal of Southern Forestry Consultants, Inc., located in Monticello, Florida. The company is a full-service forestry consulting firm founded in 1987 with offices in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. In addition to SAF, Lewis is also a member of the Florida Forestry Association, the Georgia Forestry Association, Florida Farm Bureau, Forest History Society and Forest Landowners Association.
“I encourage students to try to get some kind of experience in the field,” Lewis said. “When someone shows me a resume that has experience, it tells me they have an interest in the field. Also, belonging to an organization like SAF shows me a student has an interest in the forestry profession for the long-term and is interested in networking.”
The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) administers the degree programs of the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). The mission of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences is to deliver unsurpassed educational programs that prepare students to address the world’s critical challenges related to agriculture, food systems, human wellbeing, natural resources and sustainable communities. Visit the CALS website at cals.ufl.edu, and follow CALS on social media platforms at @ufcals.