JACKSON – Mississippi landowners Ken Martin, president and CEO of Cato-based logging company Mar-Cal Inc., and Vickie Roberts Ratliff, a fourth-generation timberland owner from Winona, are two of nine forestry professionals featured in the Southern Group of State Foresters’ (SGSF) new regional series of videos, People of Forestry, designed to increase awareness of southern forests and the many professional opportunities the forest industry provides.
Produced by the Atlanta-based video production and public relations firm KPKinteractive, the series received grant funding made available by the U.S. Forest Service. Martin and Roberts Ratliff are the subjects of one-minute videos about their roles in the forestry profession, and are also included in the longer videos Conserving Our Forests and Our Southern Forests.
A spotlight on management of a crucial, sustainable resource
“Mississippi has one of the biggest timber economies in North America, forestry is a 12.79 billion dollar industry in our state - and private landowners are the driving force,” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester, Mississippi Forestry Commission. “Martin and Roberts Ratliff have strong ties to the land through their family legacy. They are great examples of landowners dedicated to the sustainable management of their forestland.”
Martin and his two sons manage several hundred acres of timberland, including the land where his father started out in the 1960s. Martin’s family land provides sustainable timberland for quality wood products; home for healthy cattle; a playground for his grandchildren; and a livelihood and legacy for his entire family.
Roberts Ratliff encourages other minority landowners to sustain family forestry legacy. She also understands the economic, environmental, and social benefits of having a certified tree farm, which can yield sustainable income and higher prices for timber.
Conservation of an important economic legacy
"Our southern region has many passionate, committed foresters, firefighters, and landowners. Through this People of Forestry video project, we are proud to showcase some of the industry's top working professionals,” said Joe Fox, State Forester, Arkansas Forestry Commission and the Southern Group of State Foresters’ chair. “The project will also spotlight the many economic, environmental, ecological, health and social benefits of our abundant forests and why greater awareness is needed to sustain them far into the future."
On behalf of SGSF, KPKinteractive traveled to seven of SGSF’s 13 member states to document People of Forestry, using an interview-driven and cinematic style to capture each person’s story. Their video crew captured Martin’s lifelong commitment to the forest products industry at several Rankin County locations, and Roberts Ratliff’s interactions with other landowners in Noxubee County during one of her workshops, as well as a forestry consultation and tourists visiting her homestead in Montgomery County.
A showcase of forestry professionals and career opportunities
Southern forestland measures more than 230 million acres, covering more than 30 percent of the nation’s total forestland and generating more than $200 billion in annual revenue, providing for more than a million jobs. By featuring people of forestry, such as Martin and Roberts Ratliff, SGSF’s video marketing project aims to raise general awareness and support for forestry; to better promote all forestry topics for which SGSF is trying to effect change; and to increase awareness among youth to encourage their pursuit of forestry as a career.
Videos in which Roberts Ratliff and Martin are featured are “People of Forestry: Vickie Roberts Ratliff of Mississippi;” “People of Forestry: Ken Martin of Mississippi;” “Conserving Our Forests;” and “Our Southern Forests.”
To view the entire People of Forestry series, visit the Southern Group of State Foresters’ YouTube channel and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.