A letter from the FAA President - Fall 2020

A letter from the FAA President - Fall 2020

Jason Darling standing in the woods
Jason Darling, FAA President

Dear Fellow Alums and Donors,

At least for me, it is that time of year again, hunkering down in an old hunting blind waiting with excitement and anticipation for what might come my way. Within the confines of the hunting blind, I cannot help but think about the struggles and uncertainties that exist outside of my little 4-foot by 6-foot hunting blind. So much is happening outside my little space; a global pandemic, closed schools and restaurants, and a presidential race filled with conflict and turmoil. So much doubt and despair seem to infect our worlds every day.

As you might recall, the opening day of firearm hunting season here in Michigan this year was incredibly windy and rainy, not an ideal day for sure. However, with a roof over my head and a heavy wool blanket to keep me warm, I watched the raindrops splatter my window and watched the trees sway in the gusty winds and simply sat quietly and appreciated being warm and dry. Several 8-inch to 14-inch white pine trees surround my hunting blind. I watched all day as those trees swayed back and forth and back and forth.  Despite the nearly 45 mile an hour winds, and sideways rains, these trees stood firm.

I travelled home just yesterday, no deer for my freezer, but many lessons learned, and several pages read from a good book. I continue to reflect on my time out in the woods. Those White Pine trees I mentioned earlier are the focus of my reflection. How, despite every attempt by the gusty winds and rain, the trees seemed to simply enjoy flexing their fibers and rocking with the winds. Their roots spread wide, embracing the challenge to stay upright despite all that opposes. I wonder if I am up to the challenges of today’s world. Can I flex, roll with the punches, and remain as confident as my white pine trees? I like to think my foundations are as widespread and firm as the roots of that white pine. I like to think that my beautiful family, my education, and loving friends have helped me grow solid footings to manage through the tough times.

Despite all the chaos that seems to surround us and seep into our comfortable spaces, I hope that you are surrounded by those who can lift you up and stabilize your personal foundations. For me, my surroundings of late have been my wife, kids, and parents. Outside the home, my surroundings have been my close friends and many fine folks from MSU Forestry. For the most part, I work alone. The Zoom meetings and phone calls with my Forestry family have been uplifting and inspirational. Seeing familiar faces and talking about ways to improve the future of the current students and connecting alumni give me hope for better days.

With all my heart I hope all my Forestry friends are doing well. If you ever feel the need to connect with anyone from your class, directly to me, or with anyone from the Forestry Department, I hope you will reach out. It could just be an email to stay in touch, a Zoom call or maybe a phone call; it could be one little thing to help pick you up during these uncertain times. I hope you stay healthy and well rooted.

Your friend,

Jason Darling
BS 2008
President, MSU Forestry Alumni Association
Owner – Darling Forestry, LLC

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