PIFC Workshop: Collaboration & Cohesion for Professional Development
Authored by Christine Camacho Fejeran, PIFC Chair
Forestry Division Chief, Guam Department of Agriculture (DOAG), Forestry and Soil Resources Division
The 2023 Pacific Islands Forestry Committee (PIFC) Technical Training Workshop took place in Hilo, Hawai’i on December 4 – 8, 2023. The workshop theme: Collaboration & Cohesion for Professional Development – was emphasized by the very nature of the dialogue that flowed between breakout sessions and main presentations.
The PIFC mission is “to aid the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC) in developing informed and unified approaches to natural resource and forestry management issues that represent the needs of the tropical forests of the U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPI).”
Training opportunities such as the PIFC Technical Workshop provide a platform for each island to be represented and be heard. This sharing of space and knowledge enables the PIFC to elevate concerns and challenges to a national stage of partners and funding.
Participants from across the Federated States of Micronesia (Pohnpei, Kosrae, Chuuk, and Yap), the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Territory of American Samoa, the State of Hawai’i, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, the Territory of Guam, the USDA Forest Service’s Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry and Pacific Southwest Region, and universities, attended.
The speaker lineup was jam-packed, delivering presentations and engaging talks that had participants comparing challenges, solutions, and stories from their communities. The PIFC Workshop provided a space for open dialogue and the building of new partnerships.
Denise Crisostomo shared, "The impactful training sessions by the USDA Forest Service, particularly in Urban and Community Forestry, provided valuable insights for my professional growth. Emphasizing strategic intern recruitment and robust program development highlighted tangible outcomes, paving the way for employment and successful succession in forestry."
The islands and partners met for the first time in almost five years. Changes occur rapidly on islands and felt instantly – every topic was on the table, creating a challenge to streamline an agenda that refused to be cut, as a result, everything was discussed and what a week we had!
Bruno Cases, Guam DOAG Forestry, Forestry Aide I shared, “The workshop gave me a lot of information on invasive species and pests. These topics helped maintain/manage the nursery in a proper way. Thank you for the opportunity to learn more.”
As the current PIFC Committee Chair, I was honored to be part of such an effort which emphasizes that we are not alone in this vast blue world, although our islands may be remote, we share common threats and challenges and together, as one PIFC, we are able to pool our collective experiences and knowledge to find solutions and pathways forward. We could not have had such a successful event without the support of the WFLC staff.
As we say on Guam, “BIBA! Biba to our partners and si yu’os ma’åse’ to all who join the effort!”
Photos: Christine Camacho Fejeran, Sara Goodwin, Patricia Payne, and USDA Forest Service