National Alliance of Forest Owners executive presents 2024 Carlton Owen Lecture


By: Vanessa Beeson

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Posted: 4/15/2024

National Alliance of Forest Owners executive presents 2024 Carlton Owen Lecture Photo By: Photo Submitted

STARKVILLE, Miss.—The chief strategy officer for the National Alliance of Forest Owners presents the 2024 Carlton Owen Lecture, an annual event presented by Mississippi State's College of Forest Resources held in anticipation of Earth Week.

Kate Gatto will lead the April 16 public program "It's Not Easy Being Green: Forestry as a Bipartisan Solution" at 2 p.m. in Tully Auditorium, Thompson Hall.

"Forestry is one of the unique areas of society where economic and environmental values are inextricably linked," Gatto said. "No other sector of our economy has such a strong story to tell about what happens when economic and environmental values align."

As CSO for the NAFO, Gatto drives the strategic direction of the Washington-based national advocacy organization which acts as the voice for private forest landowners.

"Not only does Gatto understand the significant role privately held working forests play in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration, she also understands firsthand the challenges private forest landowners face," said Wes Burger, CFR dean and director of MSU's Forest and Wildlife Research Center. "Our students will benefit from learning about her career path and how she advocates for forest landowners."

Gatto is a member of the Mississippi forestry community with her family owning a small working tree farm in Greene County. She uses her personal experience in her advocacy work, advancing federal policies to ensure working forests provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat and jobs through sustainable practices and strong markets.

"My family taught me that if we take care of our forest, it will take care of us," Gatto said. "I am so proud of my family's working tree farm in south Mississippi—the best place in the world to grow a pine tree."

Gatto joined NAFO in 2017 from Hill+Knowlton Strategies where she spent more than 11 years leading national advocacy and reputation-building campaigns for a variety of organizations and businesses. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Mississippi and a master's degree in mass communication and integrated marketing communications from the University of South Carolina.

The Owen Lecture Series was established more than 30 years ago in MSU's CFR by Carlton Owen, a Greenville, South Carolina, resident and 1974 MSU graduate. The program focuses on natural resource conservation issues.

For more information on the College of Forest Resources, visit www.cfr.msstate.edu.

Mississippi State University is taking care of what matters. Learn more at www.msstate.edu.


Forestry