Woodland - Spring 2019 - 23

themselves up to the idea that
they should just start asking
young people to participate. She
helped them realize they, too,
could have similar results in their
"Brittany has become one
of the most recognizable faces
and voices at our leadership
conference every year, and she's
only been to three," Anrrich
added. "She's not afraid to say
yes; every time that we, as an
organization, need advice or
someone to rely on, she's always
eager to participate and fulfill
those roles."
Last year, VanderWall was
invited to become part of AFF's
prestigious Woodlands Operating
Committee (WOC), which sets
policies and procedures for
the association's woodlands
work. "I believe Brittany is the
youngest person to ever sit on
that committee. Her peers are
giants in the forest products
industry who hold high-level
positions within government
and industry," said Riley. "Her
perspectives and particularly her
experiences are extremely valued
on that committee. She is very
well respected based upon all
that she has accomplished in her
tenure in Michigan."
Becoming a leader
VanderWall, a trombone player
for 16 years, said her high school
band director Chuck Hodson and
her college jazz band director
Mike Irish were major influences
in her life. "By participating in
bands, I learned discipline,
perseverance and the value of
persistent practice. Nobody
becomes an expert overnight;
you have to be dedicated to your
craft," she said.
She also developed her
leadership skills while serving as
president of the Michigan Tech
chapter of Xi Sigma Pi (E∑Π), the
forestry honors fraternity.

Brittany, Kayti Brinkman and guest at National Leadership Conference.

Mike Smalligan has been a mentor
in the forestry industry. "Where
others would shy away from hard
questions that may be uncomfortable
to consider, Mike has widened my
perspective," she said. "He is not
afraid to ask why something is the
way it is. When you have the ability
to ask hard questions, you can make
things better. Ignoring issues simply
because addressing them raises
too much of a fuss does not make
for a well-functioning organization. It
is all about finding balance in each
VanderWall strives to maintain
balance in her personal life as well.
A resident of the small community
of Rogers City, she is active in the
local theater. (Her roles have included
Donkey in Shrek and Nancy in Oliver.)
Not only is it fun - she loves to
sing - but becoming involved in the
community helps her build credibility
as a forester, she added.
Putting on a play is a collaborative
effort; so, too is transforming an
organization like the Michigan Tree
Farm Program. "The people who are
now sitting on this committee are
all bubbling with ideas, with ways
to make things better and change
them. When we all get together and
create that energy, it's awesome,"
VanderWall said.

Part of being a leader is knowing
when to step down, and VanderWall
is adamant about not remaining
chair of the Michigan committee
long term. "Even if somebody is
amazing, bringing a variety of ideas
and directions is what keeps an
organization fresh and evolving," she
said. She's always on the lookout
for the person who can replace her
one day.
While she is unsure what
challenges she'll take on in the
future, VanderWall is ready when the
right opportunity comes along. "I
always say, 'Sure, let's try it.' What's
the worst that can happen? It may
not work out, or you may fail. But if
you don't take an opportunity, you'll
never know the type of contacts that
you could have brought to your life,"
she said.
If she hadn't agreed to serve
as chair of the Michigan Tree
Farm Program, she never would
have known about that world.
"Learning all these things has made
me a better person and a better
professional, so I'm always ready to
say yes to opportunities that make
sense to me."
That's an attitude that the
forestry industry, which will continue
to benefit from VanderWall's
leadership, can appreciate.

Spring 2019 * WOODLAND 23


Woodland - Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Spring 2019

Forest Interactions Seedlings
Forests and Families
Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Tools and Resources
Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Intro
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover1
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover2
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Overstory
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 5
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forest Interactions Seedlings
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 7
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 8
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 9
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 10
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 11
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 12
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 13
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 14
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forests and Families
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 16
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 17
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 19
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 20
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 21
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 22
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 23
Woodland - Spring 2019 - ‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 25
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 26
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 27
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 28
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 29
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 31
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 32
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 33
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 34
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 35
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Tools and Resources
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 37
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover4