Building Resiliency and Relationships
Seminar II kicked off in beautiful Perry where we learned from fellow Wedgworth Leadership Institute alumni and supporters about the state’s forestry industry. The “Forgotten Coast” suffered tragic losses as a result of the impact of Hurricane Michael. The timber industry in North Florida will see a decline in the production of trees for the next 18 to 50 years in addition to approximately 1.3 billion dollars in damage to the timber. It is costing many landowners more to clean up and replant trees than land is actually worth. The trees that survived the storm are being used for chips, saw timber, plywood, pulp and biomass. To date, the area has received no federal money to assist in the clean up after the storm. The forestry industry in North Florida are resilient and are doing the best they can with the resources available to them.
Tallahassee is a constant buzz while in session. We had the opportunity to hear from a few of the best during our visit. Mike Joyner gave Class XI a lesson in state government and explained that Florida is a very diverse state. He stressed the importance of knowing your priorities and staying laser focused to accomplish those goals whether you are in Tallahassee serving or at home on the local level. If you are not already involved in your commodity-specific organizations (FFVA, Farm Bureau, FNGLA, Turf Grass Assoc, Florida Strawberries, etc.), it is imperative to get your voice heard. It is as simple as waving signs, donating to the cause, or even going door to door advocating.
Marian Johnson is a wealth of valuable information having been involved in every presidential and state campaign since 1964. She noted how Florida has changed and will continue to change with the ever-growing population. It was discussed how the President made one tweet about then Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and the polls quickly changed, eventually winning the election. The key takeaway from this session was to get to know your House of Representatives and Senators; let them hear from you often, don’t just call when you need them—build relationships.