Future Foresters Initiative

The Future Foresters Initiative (FFI) Committee is made up of young forestry professionals and forest science students. The purpose of the FFI is to provide support to students and early career professionals from scientific forestry or related fields, through mentoring, training, networking and other social and professional development activities.

Our mission is?

  • Connect future foresters with industry and government organisations across Australia and with other international organisations;
  • Grow our influence on policy, visibility and representation in the industry;
  • Learn from the best through a range of leadership and mentoring programs.

How we help?

  • We are involved in the organisation of a range of events, both social and professional, to forge and strengthen connections;
  • We promote achievements of young foresters and regularly publish stories in The Forester;
  • We advocate for young foresters across the IFA’s sub-committees.

Meet the Committee

Patrick McCarthy – Co-Chair (VIC)

Interests: Sustainable Forest Management – Plantation Forestry

Patrick works for HVP Plantations in Myrtleford as a District Forester. He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Forest Science. Patrick began working for HVP during his studies, working in the planning and forest resources departments in both their Ballarat and Melbourne offices throughout the final years of his studies, before moving to North East Victoria upon graduating. He is a firefighter in the HVP Ovens Forest Industry Brigade and is involved in a number of sporting clubs in his local community in Beechworth.

Maddie Shelton (ACT)

Interests: Agroforestry – Forestry Exports & Marketing – Forestry Value Chains

Maddie comes from a background in International Relations and Trade, working as an export manager and trade advisor for a variety of Australian agricultural and retail products. She came across forestry for the first time after accepting a role as a purchaser and shipper for Australian wood products. She has worked in container and bulk exports primarily in Tasmania but also across WA, NSW and the Green Triangle. She decided to pursue this newfound interest by embarking on the Master of Forestry program at ANU in Canberra, where she is now based. She is also the proud owner of a small plantation in Tasmania’s North East. Maddie believes that it is important for emerging generations to see the potential of forest products as a renewable and versatile resource as well as acknowledging the ecosystem services provided by trees in the landscape. She hopes that through their support of students and young professionals, the FFI can contribute to improved industry outcomes.

Vanja Kitanovic (VIC)

Interests: Forest Ecology – Catchment Management – Student Engagement – Forestry Education

Vanja has recently completed her Master of Forest Ecosystem Science at the University of Melbourne, having previously completed her Bachelor of Science, majoring in Environmental Science, at the same institution. She is passionate about native forest management and has recently completed an internship with VicForests’ Biodiversity Conservation and Research team. She is also interested in catchment management, having completed a research project investigating the effects of environmental flow releases on riparian vegetation in 2018. Vanja is passionate about helping students reach their full potential: she has experience working for her university in employability advising, and has been actively involved with running events for her classmates as a committee member of the Forest Ecosystems Students Society.

Jenna Hammond (TAS)

Interests: Forest Education – Sustainable Forest Management

Jenna is a Communications Advisor at Sustainable Timber Tasmania. Her work involves communicating with the media, State Government, internal and external stakeholders and employees through a variety of channels and traditional and social media platforms. She is passionate about sharing stories as a means of educating and bringing knowledge to different publics about forestry.

Jenna completed her Bachelor of Media at the University of Tasmania in 2018, majoring in Strategic Communications. Jenna is a trained forest firefighter and Public Information Officer and has worked in Incident Management Teams on campaign fires in both Tasmania and New South Wales. She is a member of the Tasmanian Forests and Forest Products Network and assists the Network with production of their monthly newsletter and social media content.

Jenna joined the FFI Committee in March 2020 to learn more about forestry on a national scale and to help share the story of forestry in Australia and educate the broader public.

Sam Van Holsbeeck (QLD)

Interests: Sustainable Forest Management – Bioenergy

Sam graduated from Belgium’s Ghent University with a Master of Science in Bioscience Engineering. He went on to hold a variety of research roles at Belgium’s Royal Museum for Central Africa, the University of Melbourne, Charles Darwin University, Griffith University and started his PhD in 2017 at the University of the Sunshine Coast. His research determines the potential contribution of forest biomass for the bioenergy market in Queensland. Sam was successful in receiving a Gottstein Trust Forest Industry scholarship in 2017 and an IEA Bioenergy Top-up Scholarship in 2018 for his research. In January 2019, Sam joined the FFI committee to become the Queensland representative of the committee and to increase engagement of young foresters in Australia.

Olivia Sullivan (VIC)

Interests: Forest Ecology – Sustainable Forest Management

Olivia is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University, majoring in Ecosystem Science. She is passionate about forest conservation and management and looks forward to exploring the wonderful world of forest science. She currently works as an office bearer for the Environment Department at the University of Melbourne Student Union and wants to engage as many students as possible in environmentalism. Olivia joined the FFI committee to engage with young, like-minded professionals in forestry and to learn more about its potential as a renewable and sustainable industry.

Alannah Rowe (WA)

Events & Networking

The importance of professional networks for developing your career cannot be underestimated.

Students and early career professionals can face challenges in entering the workforce and a strong network can go a long way! The FFI are involved in a range of social and professional events across the year which provide a platform for students and early-career foresters to connect with other forest students and professionals working across Australia.

The FFI continues to work on exciting opportunities to collaborate with the forest industry in Australia as well as with peers from the International Forestry Student Association (IFSA) and our Future Foresters colleagues across the ditch in New Zealand. We are in the process of establishing a mentoring program in Australia to connect different generations of foresters for the benefit of our industry. Stay tuned!

Get in touch

Do you want to know more about the FFI?
Do you want to be part of a team of other young forest professionals?
Do you want to collaborate with us?
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the FFI committee – we would be excited to work with you!
Send send us an email via futureforesters@gmail.com