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by Guest Blogger and Department Head, Dr. Steve Kelley

PSE seniors Ryan Barnes and Joe McDonald, and Forest Biomaterials Professor and Department Head Steve Kelley, represented NCSU and PSE at the recent International Conversation Caucus Foundation Forest Products Industry Forum. The Forum was held in the Connon Congressional Office building and introduced more than 100 congressional staffers and four members of the US House of Representatives to the sustainable, energy efficient features of the modern pulp and paper industry.

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The International Conversation Caucus Foundation and the American Forest and Paper Association organized the forum which included producers such as International Paper, environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund and The Nature Conservancy, landowner groups and government agencies.  The goal of the forum was to educate the members and staff on efficient, responsible and sustainable operation of the industry. Presentations highlighted the contributions that healthy, working forests make to the national economy and the environment.

NCSU was selected to present the importance of both education and research for the future of the industry. Both Ryan and Joe have completed internships in operating mills and also worked in technology suppliers to the industry. Thus, they were ideally suited to convey the quality and enthusiasm of our PSE students, and represented the program and University in extraordinary fashion.

“I thought it was very exciting to see the government shifting focus to energy sources that have been used by the paper industry for years. As PSE students, we are well positioned to be leaders in implementing new biomass energy technology. It was also interesting to lean about the balancing of regulations to promote sustainability while not losing profitability. This is something America has been very successful at and now is working to bring to other areas of the globe,” commented Joe.

Ryan added that this was both and enjoyable and exciting experience for him.  “It was interesting to learn about the ways in which we have been successful in remaining a sustainable industry as well as ways in which we can improve for the future. This experience has broadened my perspective on careers I could seek with my degrees.”