Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Good News!

Organization Celebrates First Year of Solid Success
by Susi Rankis, Rural Action Sustainable Forestry

On Friday September 19th, our good friends at the National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP) celebrated their one-year anniversary in Ohio at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. In addition to celebrating their victories over the past year, NNFP was also celebrating a $200,000 grant from the USDA’s office of Rural Development. They received the money, along with 23 other organizations, in order to continue their work with rural cooperatives around the country.

Michelle Decker, the Executive Director of Rural Action, and i attended the event. Also in Attendance were NNFPs board of directors, coming from New Hampshire, Alabama, Washington, and many states in-between. Representatives from the offices of Senators Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich also attended. The new supervisor of the Wayne National Forest, Jo Reyer, was also there, as were members from OSU Extension, Dan Flournoy of the Ohio Premium Pine Cooperative (OPPC), community members, and businesses and cooperatives from around the nation.

Many of you may remember Colin Donahue, who worked at Rural Action for several years prior to working with NNFP. Last year, Colin took the helm as the executive director of NNFP. One of Colin’s requests when he began his work with NNFP was to relocate the organization to Appalachian Ohio, because of the importance of forestry in our region and the work that remains to be done to improve stewardship in Appalachian Ohio.

The grant from the USDA will be primarily used to fund cooperative business ideas, create strategic planning for cooperatives, and help with the purchasing of new equipment so that these cooperatives can increase their production capacity and continue to thrive in Appalachian Ohio. Since 2001, the Office of Rural Development has invested more than $90 billion into rural communities around the nation, with $4.5 million already awarded this year.

Those who attended the event also had a sneak preview of a photography show called “People and the Land,” highlighting central Appalachian communities. This show will be at Stuart's Opera House through October 24 and is free to the public.

Rural Action congratulates NNFP on the successes of the past year, and look forward to working with them on future projects.