The Rob Olszewski Fellowship

Forest Policy & Analysis

The Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy & Analysis

The ONLY fellowship in the country that focuses future professionals in career development in policy and research that impacts the success of ownership and management of private forests.

Rob Olszewski’s passing left a substantial gap in advocacy efforts on behalf of private forest landowners. Few natural resources professionals have the training, knowledge, and support to pursue a forest policy path in their careers.

Rob Olszewski’s legacy was his dedication to helping sustain America’s private forest lands. In honor of his work and tireless pursuit to accomplish this purpose, the Forest Landowner Foundation established the Rob Olszewski Forest Policy and Analysis Program to carry on the passion that he brought to ensuring the economic health and viability of private forests.

There is an overwhelming void in preparing the next generation of forestry professionals to engage meaningfully in the formation of sound, science-based forest policy. If, as an industry, we are to effectively influence forest policy we must develop natural resource managers with traits like Rob Olszewski possessed – a combination of good science, effective communication skills, and an understanding of how essential policy is to resource management and viable forest businesses.

About the Fellowship

As part of our Future Forestry Leaders Program, FLF established the Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy and Analysis. Fellowships are awarded to applicants who are pursuing a post-graduate degree that is closely related to FLA’s policy priorities.

The Rob O Fellowship is much more than a scholarship program – it is a comprehensive fellowship that provides unique experiences, critical skills, and influential connections. Fellows conduct research and analysis in support of ongoing FLF & FLA policy initiatives, culminating in a finished work product to be presented to the Advisory Council. This project complements and enhances the fellow’s ongoing academic studies. Recipients should expect to dedicate 5-10 hours per week to research and activities associated with the fellowship, with flexibility in when those hours take place. Research may be conducted under the guidance of FLA staff and/or the graduate student’s faculty adviser.

In addition, fellows have the opportunity to become immersed in a wide array of forest policy activities, professionals, and processes throughout the course of the year. For example, fellows are encouraged to visit Washington, DC, with the FLF Board of Trustees and the FLA Board of Directors during their annual meeting and hill visits in February of each year. Upon completion of the Rob O program, each fellow is equipped to launch a dynamic and successful career in forest policy and analysis that will honor the memory of Rob Olszewski.

The Forest Landowner Foundation staff and Advisory Council will work with each recipient to develop a fellowship research program.

Potential areas of relevant inquiry include:

  • Data trends in America’s forest landowners and forest ownership
  • Wood supply chain from landowner to market
  • Traditional and innovative timber markets
  • Carbon and ecosystem services
  • Listed and at-risk species conservation policy

Fellowship funds may be used to:

  • Pay tuition and fees for graduate studies
  • Fund research associated with forest policy development and implementation
  • Travel to forest policy meetings and events

Eligibility & Criteria

  • Pursuit of a post-graduate degree in a forestry-related field during the term of the fellowship
  • Maintain an overall B average (3.0 on a 4.0 scale)
  • Demonstrated interest in forest policy research and analysis relevant to private forest landowners at the national scale
  • Quality of reference letters
  • Overall demonstration of the ideals expressed by Rob Olszewski throughout his career

About Rob Olszewski

A graduate of Michigan Technological University and the University of Georgia, Rob began his career as the state forest hydrologist with the Florida Division of Forestry in 1980. Rob went on to be the Director of Environmental Affairs for Georgia-Pacific and The Timber Company, and ultimately, the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at Plum Creek from 2001 to 2015. His greatest contributions, however, came through the substantial committee work he did for the American Forest and Paper Association, the National Alliance of Forest Owners, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the National Council of Air and Stream Improvement, the Forest Landowners Association, the Forest History Society and the Society of American Foresters.

Most of his forty-year career was spent working on forest and environmental policy issues through committees that addressed policy. What separated Rob from many of his peers during these endeavors was his commitment to policy based on science and fact, not emotion. His breadth of knowledge on forest hydrology, forest management, wildlife, and landscape planning always contributed to the discussions. That characteristic, coupled with a strong positive outlook, made Rob a great colleague and extraordinary policy analyst.

2020 Rob Olszewski Fellowship Application

How to Apply:

To apply, submit the following documents before February 1, 2021.

1. Letter of interest highlighting your research interests and their connection to FLA’s policy priorities
2. Complete resume / CV (including current GPA)
3. Three letters of recommendation
4. Graduate school plan of study (including coursework and research activities)
5. Proposed budget for funds 

Contact for questions/problems with application

Inaugural Rob Olszewski Fellowship in Forest Policy and Analysis Recipient Announced

The Forest Landowner Foundation is proud to announce the inaugural recipient of the Rob O fellowship: Lauren Kate Ward of the University of Georgia. You might have met Lauren at our conference in Virginia Beach last year or participated in her research by completing a survey about private forest landowners and the Endangered Species Act.

A doctoral candidate at Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, Mrs. Ward authored and issued a survey aimed at better understanding the attitudes private landowners have about endangered species and the Endangered Species Act. She commented that there was a great need for the study and it was important because the issue thus far hasn’t been studied.

“When we looked into the research in this area, we found that there had never really been a comprehensive study addressing the private forest landowners’ perspective on endangered species conservation and the disincentives that are out there under the Endangered Species Act,” Ward said.

Ward approached the Forest Landowners Association about distributing a link to the survey to its members. The response to the survey was a pleasant surprise for Ward. “We didn’t know how many respondents we would be able to get,” Ward said. “At the end of the day we had over 1100 respondents who filled out our survey, which was a number that was far and above our expectations.”

Our research shows that private forest landowners really care about wildlife conservation. It is a very important land management objective that they have,” Ward said. “On the other hand they have fairly negative attitudes toward the Endangered Species Act.”

Ward offered that she feels it important to the ongoing discussion about wildlife conservation to lay these two realities side by side. “This survey starts to paint the picture for your average American citizen of what’s going wrong with the Endangered Species Act on the ground on private lands today,” she said.

Ward stressed that the support of the Forest Landowners Association was integral to the success of the survey effort.

“The FLA’s participation really helped make our project more meaningful and a real advancement in the research in this area,” she said.

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