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When Learning Leads to Giving

Jun. 04, 2023

Writing by NEFF Development Communications Specialist David Ayers

David Ayers gets ready to hike NEFF's Lincoln Davis Memorial Forest, photo by Lindsay Sherman

I knew nothing about forestry when I applied for a job at NEFF. Before my hire in October 2022, even my knowledge of forests was largely limited to what I observed during first-hand experiences in the forest: a long thru-hike, an escape for solitude, a moment of quiet reflection. The rest of what I learned, I cobbled together from volunteer opportunities at local land trusts and a handful of online courses centered around sustainability.

Aside from being willing to make a few environmental lifestyle changes, my connection to forests was somewhat superficial. My deep affection for nature was clearly rooted in my ability to continue recreational pursuits. The concept of harvesting trees seemed to me like a clear affront to nature, but I was gravely misinformed, and as my understanding started to shift thanks to NEFF, I came to see forests as the multifaceted, complex systems that they are—and I came to see them as the source of materials I used on a daily basis.

The truth is we need wood and wood, as it happens, comes from trees. Another truth is that if we treat forests well, using good forest management, we can harvest wood while supporting biodiversity and the health of forest ecosystems. This association should be embarrassingly obvious, and yet it is often a difficult one for many of us to grasp. I’ve learned it’s the way we obtain this wood that matters most. NEFF is using science-backed research to determine the optimal balance between biodiversity, wood production, and carbon stored in the forest—all the while continuing to conserve land for future generations. With its ethically aligned Exemplary Forestry standards, NEFF is positioned to lead the charge on responsible forestry practices.

Wood also happens to be a fantastic low-carbon alternative building material to concrete and steel. Not only are regionally sourced wood products significantly less carbon-intensive to produce, but the carbon originally stored by the tree remains locked in the lumber. With its Build It With Wood initiative, NEFF is proving that mid-rise wood buildings can be strong, beautiful, and sustainable.

I wholeheartedly believe in NEFF, its mission, and its realistic solutions to climate change. I am convinced that we have the right formula to affect change now. As such, I have made an ongoing financial commitment to the organization with a monthly recurring donation, and I have also included NEFF in my estate plans. While the amount is modest by most standards, I trust NEFF to use my gift efficiently.

The choices we have in front of us about how quickly, how collaboratively and how best we can combat climate change are too large and consequential not to act wisely. By giving to NEFF, I know I am making an impact that will reverberate for years to come.

NEFF’s staff is happy to talk through your options for legacy giving and to answer any questions. Please contact Penny Flynn for more information: