ESSM News & Events 2013 ESSM Students Win SFI Conference Scholarships SFI student scholarship winners with mentors from Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific and SappiThe Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI Inc.) awarded conference scholarships to four students from TAMU to attend the 2013 SFI Annual Conference in San Antonio, TX, last September 17-19, 2013.These students are: John Beasley – Dr. Robert Knight Tosin Sekoni – Dr. Robert Knight Shruthi Srinivasan – Dr. Sorin Popescu Ligaya Rubas – Dr. J. Richard Conner SFI Inc. provides opportunities for undergraduate or graduate forestry or natural resource students from nearby universities to attend the conference. The SFI annual conference brings together over 200 people from forest products companies, landowners, government agencies, community groups, conservation organizations, and universities. The conference proceedings featured informative and thought-provoking sessions exploring what SFI and its partners are doing today to maintain healthy, productive forests and sustainable products. During the conference, students were assigned mentors from Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific and Sappi, who also sponsored for the student’s scholarship. Students shared these insights from the conference: John learned about current improvements in the conservation of biodiversity in North America and offshore. He also learned about the expansion of requirements for logging industry, training and support for trained and certified logging programs that entrust key individuals with responsible examples of leadership and integrity. SFI certification can greatly improve the quality of timber and hold consumers and producers accountable when using timber resources and services effectively. Tosin learned about the national and international standardization program for forestry practices, which would ultimately enhance sustainable utilization of timber forests and associated natural resources. These measures are implemented directly or indirectly, to ensure ecosystem conservation, ecosystem sustainability, watershed protection, water quality and carbon sequestration. There is an intricate linkage between these ecosystem components. For Shruthi, “SFI Conference was an excellent place to network with various forest stakeholders. Forests should remain healthy and productive to maintain the resilience of the social-ecological system - forest certification plays a significant role here. It is also important to gap the divide between people and nature. I had only learnt about forest certification and sustainability in my Ecosystem Stewardship class at Texas A&M University. Through this conference, I understood how these concepts were being applied in the real world by various organizations. “ Ligaya imparted her thoughts that science plays a major role in helping meet the conservation efforts, and in finding sustainable activities to ensure keeping a working forest. It is also important to have a continuing dialogue and communication among professionals and stakeholders who share a common concern for the love of the forests. Businesses also have a big stake in extending programs with social responsibility along the supply chain markets. This scholarship covered registration, 2-night hotel stay, meals, and a small stipend for travel. Four other student scholars came from Stephen F. Austin State University. Article by Ligaya C. Rubas, ESSM Graduate Student .