Interview With The 2020 Longleaf Partnership Council Chair

Woods Headshot (1)

Tiffany Woods of the National Wildlife Federation is the youngest and first female Chair of the Longleaf Partnership Council! Mrs. Woods is the Southeast Director of the Private Lands Forestry Program, working to design and initiate landowner outreach programs centered on longleaf pine restoration.

The ALRI Communications Team recently caught up with the new Chair to discuss her background, goals, and excitement about the future of longleaf pine and ALRI! 

1. How did you get involved with America’s Longleaf Restoration Initiative and broader longleaf pine restoration efforts?

Upon graduating from my Masters program at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, I joined the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)’s Forestry Program which is what led me to longleaf pine restoration. When I joined NWF in 2012, we were working closely with our affiliate, the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF), to provide outreach to private landowners to restore longleaf pine with a specific focus for wildlife habitat restoration. I absolutely fell in love with the project and the work and from there, I worked with AWF and NWF to design, fundraise, and implement similar outreach programs for both Georgia Wildlife Federation (GWF) and Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF).

I took on the NWF council seat for the Longleaf Partnership Council during my first year on the job. I was very much a “newbie” to the efforts of the Initiative, but there were so many wonderful members on the council that mentored and helped guide me into a position to learn and eventually take on a leadership role. If you had told me during those initials years that I would one day take on the Chair position, I would have not believed it. I am so grateful to the leadership team and for the guidance of the past chairs to provide me the skills and knowledge as I work to lead the Initiative into this new decade.

2. What has been the most rewarding experience/greatest achievement in your work with the longleaf initiative?

This Initiative had taught me the importance of community and the immense value in working beyond the mission and goals of my organization. New projects and partnerships have developed solely because of the Initiative, as there is immense value of having face-to-face meetings and the connections that the Initiative provides. For instance, NWF recently absorbed the Sandhill Prescribed Burn Association (PBA) under our program, which is a landowner group that works to educate and provide peer-to-peer learning opportunities for prescribed fire in North Carolina. Jesse Wimberly, the leader of this PBA, hosted the Longleaf Partnership Council on his farm a few years back; this was how we met and I was able to see first-hand the amazing work that he and the PBA were doing. When the opportunity arose to help him find an organization for the PBA, NWF jumped at the opportunity. This venture would have never happened had we both not been involved with ALRI, so again, the community and connections are incredibly special.  

My greatest achievement has been starting two new landowner outreach programs that focus on longleaf restoration with a wildlife habitat focus for both FWF and GWF. It is incredibly rewarding to be a part of two of NWF’s partner organizations design and implement first-time landowner outreach programs centered around longleaf pine restoration, and to know that we are changing how private landowners think about and manage for longleaf on their properties as they work to improve habitat for wildlife.

3. You’re quite the outdoor recreation enthusiast! What are some of your favorite ways to get outdoors in the longleaf pine ecosystem?

I love endurance sports, specifically triathlon, and getting to do a run through the woods is my absolute favorite way to connect with nature. One of the biggest perks of this work is that I get to travel throughout the Southeast to see these incredible landscapes. During these trips, I have been lucky enough to get in trail runs in places like Weymouth Woods, as well running on rural roads in the Southeast with tall pines swaying overhead. It is quite the experience!

4. What do you hope to accomplish as the Longleaf Partnership Council Chair?

My biggest goal is to work with the LPC to shine a light and celebrate the accomplishments of the past decade as we hold our 10-year celebration this March in Washington, D.C. The Initiative is considered the most successful landscape-level conservation coalition in North America, as we truly came together to reverse and stop the decades-long decline of longleaf and see significant gains in acreage and habitat these past ten years. There is much to celebrate!

5. How does it feel to be elected as the first female chair for the LPC?

It is such an honor to be nominated and elected, and I think it is a huge privilege to be both the first female and youngest chair to date. I think this is representative of the number of women that are joining the fields of forestry, wildlife, and prescribed fire. We are seeing so many different leaders throughout this work that are females. My hope is for other women entering this field to see someone like them and know that these opportunities await them.  The LPC is special in its own right in the diversity of representation among non-profits, businesses, government agencies, extension/educators, and landowners, and over the past few years, more women have taken a seat at our table. And that is the biggest message—that is a place for all when it comes to longleaf pine restoration.