The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station recently hosted an All Cultures Luncheon to expand cultural awareness for Forest Service staff and collaborators in the Raleigh/Research Triangle Park (NC) area. Luncheon keynote speaker Victor Harris, publisher of Minority Landowner Magazine, highlighted the importance of “short and long term strategies for sustainable land management,” especially for minority agricultural and forest landowners.

Harris’ portrait of a minority landowner – 55 and older, 49 acres of land or less, fewer than 50 percent with web access – cemented the need to communicate with small family farmers and forest owners in alternative ways. “Many minority landowners cannot access government publications because they have slow or no Internet access. We must continue to build trust and credibility, partner with community-based organizations, and outreach through hands-on workshops that help enhance their operations.”

During the luncheon, Forest Service and partner participants from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative explored the dynamic, proud heritage of the African American Gullah culture and sustainable conservation efforts off the coast of South Carolina through a NRCS-produced documentary, “St. Helena Island – A Better Place.” Participants shared memorabilia representing several cultures—including Columbian, American, Native American, African, and Asian-Pacific American.

The All Cultures Luncheon increased multicultural understanding, positively influencing Forest Service research and development partnership opportunities. The day’s purpose was accurately reflected in Harris’ closing thought, confirming “Everybody has the opportunity and ability to make positive changes.”

 

Photo: The Raleigh/Research Triangle Park All Cultures Luncheon increased cultural awareness among USDA Forest Service and partner participants.