Vermont Forest Industry Summit

Vermont Forest Industry Summit

2024 Vermont Forest Industry Summit
June 6, 2024
Bolton Valley Resort –
The Ponds and Timberline Lodge

Stay Tuned for the Summit 2024 Details!

Thank you for joining us for the 2023 Forest Industry Summit put on by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF), with generous support from the Northern Forest Center, the Endowment for Forestry and Communities and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. Thanks to generous support from our sponsors, this year’s Vermont Forest Industry Summit was free for attendees. Attendees:

  • Networked with industry members across the forest and wood products supply chains.
  • Learned about new innovations, technologies and products shaping the industry’s future.
  • Enjoyed great food, speakers, and fall foliage at Bolton Valley Resort!

Innovation in the Forest Economy

This year’s Vermont Forest Industry Summit theme was exploring Innovation in the Forest Economy. The event included topics ranging from mass timber to wood-based textiles and featured guest speakers from Vermont and the region who discussed initiatives designed to support and transform our forest industry as it evolves based on shifting markets and demographics. The Summit partnered with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation’s (FPR) Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project, and after lunch worked together with FPR on the draft content of the Strategic Roadmap. Attendees spent the day learning about the exciting innovations happening in the industry and helping finalize a set of recommendations that FPR will be making to the Vermont Legislature as part of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap process.

A big thank you to the following summit sponsors and partners:

Funding support for VSJF’s Forest Products Development Program from:

  • Northern Border Regional Commission
  • Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Initiative
  • Agency of Commerce and Community Development
  • The Daybreak Fund (formerly the High Meadows Fund) at the Vermont Community Foundation
Vermont Forest Industry News

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Get in Touch

Contact Christine McGowan
Forest Products Program Director
(802) 828-5770

Watch the 2023 Summit Videos

Keynote Plenary: Investing in Regional Forest Economy Innovation

This discussion will feature a coalition of forest economy education and economic development leaders who are embarking on an 18-month strategic planning initiative to accelerate innovations in forest ecosystem management and forest products and open new markets that depend on thriving forests in northern New England. Joe Short, Vice President of the Northern Forest Center will moderate a panel discussion comprised of Coalition of Northern Forest Innovation and Research (CONFIR) partners from Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine to discuss the initiative, and explore ways in which forest industry, government and economic development leaders in all three states can help lay the foundation for an emerging hub of innovation and a potential future NSF Engine Development Award for the region. Speakers will include Shane O’Neill with the University of Maine at Orono, Andy Fast with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, Tony D’Amato with the University of Vermont and Jared Reynolds with the Forestry Accelerator at Do North Co-Working in Lyndonville.

Moderator: Joe Short, Vice President, Northern Forest Center0


  • Shane O’Neill, Forest Industry Business Development Manager, University of Maine – Orono
  • Andy Fast, Forest Industry State Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension
  • Tony D’Amato, Director of Forestry Program and UVM Research Forests, University of Vermont
  • Jared Reynolds, Manager, Do North Co Working and Forest Business Accelerator
  • Erica Watson, Senior Program Director Education and Workforce, Maine Development Foundation

Joe Short Bio: Joe leads regional strategy and public policy initiatives at the Center, works in all our forest economy program areas, and oversees core operations. He first came to the Center in 2003 as a Doris Duke Conservation Fellow and joined the staff full-time in 2004. He has combined his systems thinking, facilitation and project management expertise to lead numerous regional initiatives for the Center, including the Sustainable Economy Initiative (2006-2008), Northern Forest Investment Zone (2009-2014), the development of the Northern Border Regional Commission’s strategic plan (2015-2016), and the Future Forest Economy Initiative (2019-present). Collectively these efforts have secured and guided the investment of tens of millions of dollars in rural economic development in the Northern Forest.

Unlocking the Potential of New England Wood Species in Mass Timber Construction

This session will provide an educational opportunity to explore the increasing role of mass timber construction in the northeast and focus on the use of New England regional wood species such as Eastern Hemlock and Spruce Pine Fir (SPF) in mass timber production. As the demand for mass timber construction surges in New England, there is a notable absence of local manufacturers. However, a remarkable opportunity lies in utilizing native and under-utilized species, to not only bolster the construction industry but also foster the development of a robust regional supply chain. By incorporating these wood species, we can simultaneously boost construction capabilities, stimulate economic growth, and contribute to the sustainability of our local ecosystems. Hear about local mass timber projects in Vermont and Massachusetts, currently under construction and utilizing local species, and gain an understanding of the potential for future growth.

Moderator: Ricky McLain, Executive Director, Structural Engineers Association of Vermont
Speaker: Andy Fast, Forest Industry State Specialist, UNH Cooperative Extension

Ricky McLain Bio:
Ricky McLain leads WoodWorks’ Growth and Innovation Program, working on project technical design support, resource creation and growth opportunity facilitation related to areas such as tall mass timber construction, builder’s risk insurance for mass timber projects, and industrialized/offsite buildings. He supports the AECD community both directly and collaboratively with WoodWorks Regional Directors, providing in depth technical design assistance. Ricky also has extensive experience in lead engineer roles related to structural design, project management and construction administration. Ricky is Executive Director of the Structural Engineers Association of Vermont, and a member of numerous committees and councils related to building design.

Regional Market Opportunity for Wood-Based Textiles

Exciting advances are being made in the production of wood-based textiles, opening possibilities for a new industry to emerge in the Northern Forest region.

In the last two years, fast-moving innovations, new companies, and policy developments in the wood-based fiber sector have fundamentally changed the landscape and allowed new pathways to take shape that offer promising alternative, non-chemical methods of producing a variety of textiles from wood.

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, with support from the Northern Forest Center, U.S. Endowment for Forests and Communities and EDA, and the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, commissioned a Wood-Based Textiles Market Opportunity Assessment to explore this emerging opportunity with a lens of how it might benefit the region’s forest economy.

Lead Investigator Sarah Kelley will present the findings of the project team’s research and offer potential pathways for industry leaders in Vermont and the region to consider.

Moderator: Sarah Kelley, Principal, Common Threads Consulting


  • Guy Herman, Independent Consultant
  • Christine James, Independent Consultant

Sarah Kelley Bio:
Sarah Kelley is the Principal of Common Threads Consulting, working with clients to provide research, strategy development, and facilitation. She brings background and expertise in the textile industry, plant and soil science, and funding and financing approaches to this project. Other current work includes consulting to Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) for its initiative on sustainable fiber and textiles, serving as Co-Managing Director of the Fibers Fund, focusing on capital access for U.S. fiber system entrepreneurs, and serving as lead researcher and author for Textile Exchange for its work on regenerative agriculture in the textile and apparel industry.

Accelerating Business Start-Ups in the Forest Economy

Vermont is known for its small business innovation culture. It’s also known for its Green Mountains and its deep history producing high quality forest products given its central location in the largest continuous forest east of the Mississippi, the Northern Forest.

A new forest business accelerator at Do North Co-Working in Lyndonville is attracting start-ups from across North America that want to develop new products and services for the forest economy.

In this session, Accelerator director Jared Reynolds will host a conversation with past and present Accelerator cohort members as well as other new or emerging forest business leaders on what it takes to grow a forest economy business in today’s climate, what resources are available to help entrepreneurs interested in growing a forest-related business and what more is needed to support businesses in our regional forest economy.

Moderator: Jared Reynolds, Manager, Do North Coworking and Forest Business Accelerator


  • Jim and Mary-Ellen Lovinsky, Sylvacurl
  • Josh Oakley, Mass Kingdom
  • Nathaniel Klein, Treeline Terrains

Jared Reynolds Bio:
Jared leads Do North Coworking an entrepreneurship hub that offers emerging and growing businesses a place to launch and grow. Do North offers a range of programs and resources to incubate and accelerator businesses, including the Forestry Accelerator, the country’s only forestry-focused business accelerator. The Forestry Accelerator is a 4-month program open to North American companies that are commercializing new products and services that develop new markets for low grade wood, improve forest industry operations, and advance wood fuels and energy.

NOT RECORDED: Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project Breakout Sessions

In addition to exploring industry innovation, the goal of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap project is to evaluate the current state of Vermont’s forest economy and to identify the opportunities to strengthen, modernize, promote, and protect the forest economy into the future. This process will engage the parties representing all users of Vermont’s forests in a robust public engagement process and will develop a 10-year plan of recommended actionable strategies to protect the long-term viability of forest-based businesses, via the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap.

Forest Management and Land Use

A key strategic objective of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project is sustaining a diverse forest economy and contributing to climate change mitigation by supporting the health, resilience, and productivity of Vermont’s forestlands through stewardship and management. This workshop discussion will focus on how best to:

  • Manage for increased forest health
  • Promote land use policies to maintain working forest lands
  • Empower and incentivize landowners to maintain working forests
Business Environment and Conditions

A key strategic objective of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project is creating a business environment and workforce that supports the competitiveness of the Vermont forest products sector. This workshop will be an interactive and exploratory discussion on how best to:

  • Enhance capacity for industry adaptation and value-adding
  • Build strong connections to the next generation of workforce
  • Create a “problem-busting” approach focused on the forest economy
Research, Innovation, and Technology

A key strategic objective of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project is promoting innovation and adaptability in the Vermont forest products sector by supporting technological development, cross-sector collaboration, and processing capability for both new and existing forest products. This workshop will be an interactive and exploratory discussion on how best to:

  • Boost investment to develop new and innovative uses of Vermont forest products
  • Accelerate the adoption of technical innovation
  • Examine the optimal multi-use future forest economy
Industry Reputation and Market Profile

A key strategic objective of the Vermont Forest Future Strategic Roadmap Project is strengthening positive market and consumer perceptions by communicating the importance of working forests and promoting the benefits and contributions of Vermont’s forest products and forest economy. This workshop will be an interactive and exploratory discussion on how best to:

  • Elevate the social license of the forest products sector in Vermont
  • Explore the potential for branding of Vermont wood products at a local and regional level
Forest Economy and Rural Communities

Protecting and enriching the positive impact of the forest economy on the rural communities embedded in the Vermont forest landscape. This workshop will be an interactive and exploratory discussion on how best to:

  • Build stronger linkages between the recreational uses and forest products economy
  • Reimagining the ‘mill town’ of the future

2022 Forest Summit Recap Videos

This year, nearly 150 people attended the 3rd Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit June 9-10, 2022 at Burke Mountain Resort. With so many great sessions to choose from, many attendees planned to watch the sessions they missed.

2022 Opening Keynote: The Future of our Forests -Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters

The Future of our Forests

Welcome – Christine McGowan, Coordinator, Vermont Forest Industry Network

Introductory Remarks – Commissioner Mike Snyder, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Keynote – Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters. Terry Baker’s career in forestry began as a forester with the USDA Forest Service, working in Florida, Oregon, Nebraska, Arizona, and Colorado. Today, Baker leads the Society of American Foresters, which represents forestry professionals and provides leadership to ensure that all members of the profession achieve excellence in sustainable forestry and natural resource management. Baker will discuss the state of forestry in the US and the important role that forestry and the forest products industry plays in confronting environmental challenges such as climate change and keeping our forests as forests. Baker will take questions from the audience.

2022 Session: Climate adaptation and Resiliency in Vermont's Forests and Along the Forest Supply Chain

Climate change is impacting Vermont’s forests in many complex ways, and these threats are creating an uncertain future for our forests and our forest economy. In this session, speakers will provide the latest information about climate change’s impacts on Vermont’s forests and forest products supply chain, and what actions can be taken by landowners and practitioners to make our forests and forest economy more resilient to climate change, as well as to ensure that they remain healthy and productive for the future. They will also solicit feedback from attendees about a new project underway to explore resiliency in Vermont’s forests and along the forest products supply chain.

Charlie Hancock, North Woods Forestry

Dr. Alexandra Kosiba, Climate Forester, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
Dr. Steve Bick, Forester, Northeast Forests, LLC

2022 Session: Business Roundtable – Problem-Solving Workforce and Supply Chain Challenges

Click the image above to access the just-released Vermont Forest Economy Career Guide

Representatives of Vermont’s forest and wood products industry will explore common workforce and supply chain challenges as a result of Covid 19. Participants will discuss how they have solved workforce or supply chain problems, or brainstorm additional challenges. Attendees of the session will be encouraged to actively participate in the discussion.

Ellen Kahler, Executive Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

This will be a roundtable discussion, but participants who will attend to share their experiences will include:
Trevor Allard, Allard Lumber
Mike Rainville, Maple Landmark
Logan Sears, Long View Forest

2022 Session: Outdoor Recreation and Forest Products Sector: Finding Synergies in the Landscape and Workplace

Outdoor recreation businesses have unique connections to Vermont’s forests, whether building trails in them, skis from them, or cultivating recreation enjoyment by Vermonters and visitors. Other similarities to forest products businesses abound in sourcing materials, training for technical work, as well as being drivers of the local economies and employment bases of Vermont’s rural communities.

Hear from Vermont’s outdoor recreation entrepreneurs and engage in a moderated discussion on approaches to: Forest use that balance resource sustainability, traditions, and craftsmanship while securing materials and providing quality, healthy experiences in the outdoors; Recruiting and training a skilled workforce and anchoring the economic vitality of communities; and, Ways the sectors can collaborate to advance the pillars of the Governor’s Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative (VOREC) of strengthening outdoor businesses, participation, public health, and the quality, extent, and stewardship of recreation resources.

Abby Long, Kingdom Trails Association, member of the Vermont Outdoor Business Alliance and the Vermont Outdoor Recreation Economic Collaborative

Vin Faraci, Owner, WhiteRoom Skis
Zac Freeman, Owner, Apex Trailworks
Sam Hooper, Owner, Vermont Glove
Hal Ellms, Owner, Pinnacle Outdoor Group

2022 Session: Communication in the Age of Misinformation

NOTE: There is no recording available for this session.

In this session, attendees will hear from national and state communications professionals on the power of language to combat negative perceptions about forest management practices such as logging, and will leave with practical tips and advice on becoming more effective forest economy ambassadors.

Kelly Nottermann, Communications Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

TJ Struhs, #forestproud, a national initiative to elevate the profile of the forest products industry
Emily Bradbury, Emily Bradbury Communications – Emily manages the content for the Vermont Forest Industry Network’s story series.

Day 2: Plenary: Investing in our Forest Future – GO Lab and Timber HP, a Case Study

Welcome – Joe Short, Northern Forest Center, Network Steering Committee Member

Investing in the Future – GO Lab and Timber HP, a Case Study – GO Lab Co-Founder Josh Henry will talk about TimberHP, North America’s first wood fiber insulation plant gearing up to begin production in Madison, ME; the facility will manufacture insulation made from wood fiber as an environmentally-friendly and cost-competitive alternative to traditional fiberglass and foam insulation, and will utilize wood chips and waste from mills in Maine and the Northern Forest. His remarks will be followed by a discussion with some of GO Lab’s public and private investors; the session will be moderated by Janice St. Onge, president of the Flexible Capital Fund, an investor in the project.

Opening Remarks by: Josh Henry, Co-Founder and President, GO Lab, Inc.

Plenary Moderator: Janice St. Onge, President, Flexible Capital Fund

Josh Henry, Co-Founder and President, GO Lab
Tony Grassi, Investor and Board Chair, GO Lab
Heather Johnson, Maine’s Commissioner for Economic and Community Development
Deborah Favreau, Chief Development Officer, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation

2022 Session: Emerging Growth Opportunities in Vermont's Forest Economy

NOTE: There is no recording available for this session.

COVID-19 has presented many challenges to forest economy businesses, but it has also helped spawn unprecedented demand for wood products. The need to support the expansion of businesses serving consumers of wood products from fuel to furniture is as great as ever. In this session, attendees will hear from businesses planning expansion projects that will have a positive impact on Vermont’s forest economy.

Matt Langlais, County Forester for Caledonia and Essex Counties, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

Morton Bailey, Lyme Green Heat, Inc. – expansion of a bulk Wood Pellet Mill in Wells River
Ethan Gevry, Gevry Firewood, LLC – firewood processing improvements to expand firewood market
Timothy Engell, White Rock Farm, LLC – sawmill expansion

2022 Session: Markets – Local forest products in Mass Timber Construction: Unlocking the Next Steps

Vermont building designs have a rich tradition of timber frame construction. However, due to the lack of current mass timber supply in the state, some have been hesitant to specify mass timber products for local projects, knowing that supply will come from outside the region. Across the country, mass timber products such as cross-laminated timber and glulam have opened the door to many new opportunities for sustainable construction. Concurrently, research and testing on the use of Eastern Hemlock in mass timber products has progressed such that real projects in Vermont and Massachusetts will soon be constructed using these locally-sourced raw materials. Join this interactive discussion on mass timber to hear what’s happening from a national, regional, and local perspective – and what we can all do to further the use of mass timber in Vermont. The Eastern Hemlock in CLT story will be told, and several local mass timber projects will be highlighted.

Moderator and Presenter:
Ricky McLain, WoodWorks – overview of mass timber development and trends across the region and beyond

Charlie Levesque, President, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, LLC – overview of a pilot project to demonstrate eastern hemlock’s viability as a species for use in Cross-Laminated Timber.
Megan Nedzinski, Project Architect at Vermont Integrated Architecture, P.C., Fairbanks Museum Mass Timber Demonstration Project – an update on the project; use of eastern hemlock in the project; other local wood considerations
Paul Boa, Head of Timberframe Operations, and Florian Back, Structural Engineer, Bensonwood, JT Imming, ReArch Company – an update on the Adimab Expansion: Lebanon, NH’s 1st Mass Timber Building

Attendees can earn 1.5 AIA/CES HSW LUs, 1.5 PDH credits or 0.15 ICC credits

2022 Session: Finding Workers: Apprenticeships and other Workforce Pipeline Opportunities for the Forest Economy

Click the image above to access the just-released Vermont Forest Economy Career Guide

Workforce, or lack thereof, remains a critical challenge for forest economy businesses. This session will explore existing apprenticeship programs that can be tailored to the forest economy, and will also seek industry input into a new initiative from the Vermont Wood Works Council to develop additional workforce solutions.

Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

Molly Willard, Vermont Technical College, Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development
Jason Finley, Career Services Coordinator, Randolph Technical Career Center
Amanda Chase, Director of Strategic Engagement, Advance VT
Jay Ramsey, Director, Registered Apprenticeship Program, VT Department of Labor

Charlie Shackleton and Kate Ziehm, Vermont Vermont Wood Works Council, will discuss a new initiative: Careers in Wood: Building a Workforce for the Future 

2022 Session: Investing in the Forest Economy – How Forest Economy Business Can Tap Into Funding Opportunities

In this session, presenters will outline various funding opportunities available for forest and wood product businesses in Vermont, and share practical advice on how best to access grant funding. Past recipients of Working Lands Enterprise Initiative business grants will describe their funded projects, and discuss pros and cons of applying for and/or receiving funds for projects.

Calley Hastings, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board Farm and Forest Viability Program

Mariah Noth, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board
Lynn Ellen Schimoler, Working Lands Interprise Initiative
Steve Bick, Northeast Forests, LLC

WLEF grant recipients Lucas Jenson (Treehouse Hardwoods & Millshop) and Heath Bunnell, (Kirby Mulch), will share their experiences pursuing and utilizing a working lands business grant.

The Life of a Tree in Vermont

In their 100th year, Cabot Creamery Co-operative teamed up with the Vermont Wood Works Council and the Vermont Forest Industry Network to thank the people and businesses in Vermont who steward and care for our forests, and the craftspeople who turn our trees into products we use and cherish for a lifetime.


2019 Forest Summit Recap Videos

2019 Welcome and Opening Plenary: the Future of our Forests

Vermont’s forests are an invaluable asset – they provide us with clean water and clean air, abundant wildlife and an opportunity to connect with nature through hiking, camping, skiing, mountain biking and other forest-based recreation. Our forests also support Vermont’s economy through jobs in logging, forestry and milling to fine woodworking, design and building, not to mention recreation-based tourism and maple production. What does the future hold for Vermont’s forests, and our forest-based economy? Deputy Commissioner Sam Lincoln will moderate a wide-ranging discussion with some of the leading experts in our state and region to explore the challenges and opportunities that come with managing the forests of the future.

Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation


  • Michael Snyder, Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Charlie Hancock, North Woods Forestry
  • Ken Gagnon, Gagnon Lumber
  • Mike Rainville, Maple Landmark
  • Abby Long, Kingdom Trails
  • Emma Marvin, Butternut Mountain Farm

2019 Afternoon Session 1: Reducing Worker's Compensation Rates through Logger Safety

Learn about a new program in Vermont to improve safety in the woods and reduce worker’s compensation rates for Vermont loggers. Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, will lead a discussion about the challenges Vermont loggers face with high workers compensation rates and solutions that are in the works to reduce rates and promote safety.

Moderator: Sam Lincoln, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation


  • John Adler, LPA Logging
  • Alex Barrett, Long View Forest
  • Nancy Cass, Cass Insurance
  • Rocky Bunnell, Log Contractor

2019 Afternoon Session 2: Reinvesting in the Vermont Sawmill

The number of sawmills in Vermont has been declining for several years. However, many of those that remain are investing in the future. The panel will explore whether the loss of sawmills in Vermont has resulted in a loss in capacity to fulfill market needs in the state and region. They will also will discuss what investments Vermont sawmills are making to stay competitive, and explore what is needed to ensure remaining mills are successful and also what, if any, gaps exist that new or expanded mills could fill.

Moderator: Eric Kingsley, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions


  • Paul Frederick, Wood Utilization Manager, Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Bill Sayre, Co-Owner, A. Johnson Lumber
  • Trevor Allard, Allard Lumber
  • Colleen Goodridge, Owner, Goodridge Lumber
  • Joel Currier, Currier Forest Products

2019 Afternoon Session 3: From Tree to Table: Tapping into Vermont Tourists' Desire for Forest-Based Experiences

Forest-based recreation is on the rise, and more and more, tourists are seeking unique experiences during their travels in the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s forest and wood products industry has the potential to tap into this growing market by re-connecting visitors to where their wood products come from just as farms and food producers have re-connected people to where food comes from. The panel will explore example in the forest and wood products sectors of where businesses can provide unique visitor experiences while also helping visitors make positive connections between the forests they treasure and the wood products they use in their everyday lives.

Moderator: Tim Tierney, Agency of Commerce and Community Development


  • Charles Shackleton, ShackletonThomas
  • Joe Short, Northern Forest Center
  • April Lemay, April’s Maple

2019 Afternoon Session 4: SEO: What Is It, and Why Do I Need It? How to Get Your Business Discovered Online

Learn DIY tips and tricks to easily improve your website’s search engine rankings with Kelly Nottermann of Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. Search Engine Optimization (a.k.a. SEO) doesn’t have to be complicated. Kelly will share some current SEO trends and practical tactics you can use to help more people find your business through Google search. Optional homework: Enter the name of your business into an online search and see how many times you appear on the first page of results.

2019 Keynote Address: The Future of Wool

Our keynote speaker is Donna Cassese, who recently retired after four decades at pulp and paper giant Sappi and now consults for the company and sits on the executive committee of the Maine Forest Economy Growth Initiative. Donna will discuss the promising work being done across the globe to develop new and innovative products made from wood, from jet fuel to soccer balls to clothing to food additives. You name it, it might be made of wood someday!

Donna Cassese graduated from UMO with a B.S. in Forest Management and worked for Sappi for over 40 years. She has had diverse roles within forestry, operations, and manufacturing.  After nearly 15 years as a forester in both Maine and Alabama she transitioned into managerial roles in the Woodyard, Waste Treatment, Pulp Sales and Human Resources at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, Maine. Following these roles, Donna held the position of Plant Manager at Sappi’s Allentown Pennsylvania converting facility and then transitioned into the Supply Chain group at the Somerset Mill. In 2006 Donna became the Director of Inside Sales for Sappi’s North American operations. In 2008, Donna assumed responsibility for the Westbrook Mill as Managing Director. In 2014 Donna returned to forestry as the Director of Wood Supply Strategy with responsibility for developing and implementing wood supply strategy for Sappi’s mills in Maine and Minnesota. In January of 2018 Donna retired and now works as a consultant for Sappi leading government relations work in Maine.

Following Donna’s presentation and Q&A, we will facilitate a discussion of potential products in various stages of research, development and commercialization, and gain insights from the audience about where is Vermont’s sweet spot is when it comes to the next generation of wood products.

2019 Morning Session 1: Dry Wood Chips–Current and Future Market Opportunities

Forest-based recreation is on the rise, and more and more, tourists are seeking unique experiences during their travels in the Green Mountain State. Vermont’s forest and wood products industry has the potential to tap into this growing market by re-connecting visitors to where their wood products come from just as farms and food producers have re-connected people to where food comes from. The panel will explore example in the forest and wood products sectors of where businesses can provide unique visitor experiences while also helping visitors make positive connections between the forests they treasure and the wood products they use in their everyday lives.

Moderator: Tim Tierney, Agency of Commerce and Community Development


  • Charles Shackleton, ShackletonThomas
  • Joe Short, Northern Forest Center
  • April Lemay, April’s Maple

2019 Morning Session 2: Trends in Design–How Vermont Wood Products Stack Up

What are the latest design trends influencing Vermont woodworkers, and in turn how are they influencing styling with wood?

Moderator: Jon Blatchford, Vermont Wood Works Council; General Manager, J.K. Adams


Peggy Farabaugh, Vermont Woods Studios
David Hurwitz, David Hurwitz Originals
James Murray, Simon Pearce

2019 Morning Session 3: Success(ion) Planning–Options for Businesses to Consider

Starting, growing and managing a business is hard work. But without a well thought out exit strategy, a business runs the risk of being forced to close its doors leaving employees – and owners – high and dry. Learn about the various options for your business when you want to move on.

Moderator: Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


Janice St. Onge, President, Flexible Capital Fund
Ken Gagnon, Gagnon Lumber
Timo Bradley, Timberhomes

2019 Morning Session 4: Telling Your Story

With a year of Vermont forest and wood products stories under our belt, we think we’re onto something! The Vermont Forest Industry Network will share results of our story-telling efforts to help raise the profile of Vermont’s forest and wood products industry. We’ll be joined by a Cabot Creamery and others to talk about effective story telling that any forest or wood products business can do, and why it is a critical component of any good marketing plan.

Moderator: Kelly Nottermann, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


Christine McGowan,
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Emily Bradbury, Emily Bradbury Communications
Amy Richardson, Richardson Family Farm

2018 Forest Summit Recap Videos

More than 150 people attended the 1st Annual Vermont Forest Industry Summit June 28-29, 2018 at Burke Mountain Resort.

  • We launched the Vermont Forest Industry Network, made up of forest and wood products industry members and service providers who want to advance Vermont’s forest and wood products sector, grow markets for Vermont wood products and improve our forest supply chains.
  • Click here to read a re-cap of the Summit and next steps for the Network.

2018 Morning Plenary: Forests of the Future: Taking the Long View

What do we want Vermont’s forests to be in 50 years? A panel of distinguished industry experts explores this question in the context of local, regional and global issues that impact today’s forests and the industry that both stewards and depends on them.  How are other regions viewing forests of the future, and what actions are needed today to insure Vermont has the forests it envisions for future generations?

Sean Ross, Managing Director/Director of Forestry Operations, Lyme Timber Company, LP; Hanover, NH


  • Kathryn Fernholz, Executive Director, Dovetail Partners, Minneapolis, MN
  • Craig Rawlings, President/CEO, Forest Business Network, Missoula, MT
  • Michael Snyder, Commissioner, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation
  • Alex Barrett, Consulting Forester, Long View Forest Management, Westminster, VT

2018 Track One AM: Beyond the Woodstove Thinking big about renewable energy and wood

This panel discusses how energy users across the scale are utilizing wood and moving away from fossil fuels. How will the emergence of home and business scale Combined Heat and Power (CHP) impact the market for pellets and chips in Vermont and the region? What do forest and wood products businesses in Vermont need to know about converting away from fossil-fuel based energy systems? Learn how the public utilities are using Tier III dollars to help forest industry businesses move away from fossil fuels.

Moderator: Adam Sherman, Biomass Energy Resource Center, Burlington, VT 


  • Dutch Dresser, Maine Energy Systems, Bethel, ME
  • Jack Byrne, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
  • Jeffrey Monder, Green Mountain Power, Rutland, VT

2018 Track One PM: How Company Culture and Efficient Operations Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Workforce development continues to challenge Vermont businesses grappling with a shortage of workers and many forest products business owners are reaching retirement age. Overseas and over-the-border competition continues to put downward pressure on product prices. Staying focused ON your business and not just working IN your business can be hard to prioritize. Vermont forest and wood products businesses discuss how they have overcome challenges recruiting and retaining quality employees, as well as how they’ve invested in operational efficiencies that are yielding results. Stories of what can happen when the business is not attending to these needs are shared.

Moderator: Lawrence Miller, Business consultant and founder of Otter Creek Brewing Company


  • Jennifer Fraser, General Manager, Appalachian Engineered Flooring, North Troy
  • Chris Brooks, Owner, Vermont Wood Pellet Company, N. Clarendon
  • Andrew Pearce, Owner, Andrew Pearce Bowls, Hartland

2018 Track Two AM: Mass Timber in Vermont and Beyond: Products, Projects and the case for Local Timber

Due to their high strength, dimensional stability and positive environmental performance, mass timber building products are quickly becoming materials of choice for sustainably-minded designers. Regions of the country such as the Pacific Northwest, the southeast and New England have shown particular interest in adopting this new style of construction, undoubtedly in large part due to their abundant forest resources. This presentation provides an overview of the variety of mass timber products available, including glue-laminated timber (glulam), cross laminated timber (CLT), nail laminated timber (NLT), heavy timber decking, and other engineered and composite systems. Applications for the use of these products under modern building codes are discussed, and examples of their use in U.S. projects reviewed. Next, the results of a recently completed mass timber feasibility study on a 5 story mixed-use project in Brattleboro are presented, with an emphasis on cost, assemblies and lessons learned. Finally, non-structural wood species native to Vermont is discussed, highlighting possible applications for these products in mass timber buildings.

Moderator/Speaker: Ricky McLain, WoodWorks, Cabot, VT


  • Jillian Tomaselli, Stevens & Associates, Brattleboro, VT
  • Paul Frederick, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

2018 Track Two PM: The Forest Story: Connecting the Dots between Forests, People and the Industry in the Middle

Research shows that consumers have an innate love of forests and a desire for quality wood products – two things Vermont has in spades. How can forest and wood products businesses more effectively tell their stories and emphasize their role stewarding the forests people love and making the wood products people want?  Hear results from a recent survey of Vermonters and visitors about their perceptions of our forests and wood products and learn about a new regional marketing campaign to grow the market for automated wood heat.

Moderator: Kathleen Wanner, Owner, GWC Communications and Executive Director, Vermont Woodlands Association 


  • Maura Adams, Northern Forest Center
  • Christine McGowan, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund

2018 Track Three AM: Local Wood: Supporting Vermont's Economy through Local Wood Sourcing

A look at case studies of previous and current efforts to source local wood. What lessons can be learned by previous efforts to develop a Vermont wood supply chain from landowner to consumer? Examples of current local sourcing efforts are discussed.

Moderator: Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


  • Joe Nelson, Consulting Forester, Addision, VT
  • Andy Harper, Winterwood Timber Frames, East Montpelier, VT
  • Michael Rainville, Maple Landmark, Middlebury, VT
  • Tony Fletcher, Green Mountain Grain & Barrel, Richmond,

2018 Track Three PM: Global Trends and Native Vermont Species: Where Can We Compete?

Trends come and go, but the trees that grow in Vermont and the region are steady. What are the latest trends in wood use? What species are coming into vogue for architectural design? How is Amazon impacting the market for cardboard? Are we taking full advantage of the species that grow in Vermont, and are there opportunities for underutilized species to meet consumer demands?

Moderator: Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund


  • Donna Cassese, SAPPI
  • Craig Rawlings, Forest Business Network
  • Sam Lincoln, Deputy Director, Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation

2018 Closing Panel: an industry in Transition: A Last Word from Forest Industry Entrepreneurs and Emerging Leaders

Shifting markets, an aging workforce and global trade all could be seen as formidable challenges to Vermont’s forest and wood products businesses. But Vermont’s forest and wood products industry also has plenty of rising stars who see a future in our forests. This closing panel explores the future of Vermont’s forest and wood products industry.

Moderator: Ian Hartman, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board


  • Charlie Hancock, Consulting Forester, North Woods Forestry, Montgomery Center
  • Kyle Pratt, Logger, Jericho
  • Peter Gardner, Clifford Lumber, Hinesburg
  • Adam and Andrew Rainville, Maple Landmark, Middlebury
  • Carina Driscoll, Vermont Woodworking School, Cambridge
  • Ben Nottermann, Green Mountain Technical & Career Center, Hardwick

Vermont’s Forestry Industry

Vermont’s forest products industry generates an annual economic output of $1.5 billion and supports 10,000 jobs. In addition, Vermont’s forest recreation economy generates another $1.9 billion in economic output, and supports 10,000 additional jobs. The industry was hit hard in the 2008 Recession, and finding markets for low grade wood (the majority of wood harvested from Vermont’s forests) is becoming increasingly difficult due to a sharp decline in the region’s pulp industry, combined with the low price of oil and a move away from expanding electric-only biomass in the region. Markets for high grade wood are healthy, but cannot singularly sustain Vermont’s forest products industry. Without healthy markets for low grade wood, Vermont is likely to see continued decline in the industry’s in-state infrastructure such as logging operations, sawmills and kilns, as well as the local jobs they sustained.

Our Role

Over the past 20 years, the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund has provided industry analysis, expertise and project support, which positions the Vermont Forest Products Program to have a positive impact on the state’s forestry sector in rural communities throughout the state. Vermont’s forest products industry is imperative for job creation and sustainability, providing economic, environmental, and social benefits for rural communities that have limited economic opportunities. The Vermont Forest Products Program aims to help create and sustain thousands of jobs for Vermonters.

The Vermont Forest Products Program is supported by the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative, the High Meadows Fund, the Windham Foundation as well as the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Northern Border Regional Commission.

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