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The Roanoke Center announced today that it will have an additional $10,000 to devote to youth programs in 2022 thanks to a grant from the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative. 

The Initiative’s State Implementation Committee approved the award recently to help advance its principles among forest industry professionals, private forest owners and educators.

The Roanoke Center is a nonprofit subsidiary of Roanoke Electric Cooperative. 

The center’s programs include the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project, a program that helps families in seven northeastern North Carolina counties served by Roanoke Electric increase the income and asset value of family-owned forestland and encourages forest health, land retention and the opportunity to create intergenerational wealth. Roanoke Electric has sponsored the SFLRP since 2013.

The youth-focused activity that will benefit most significantly, SFLRP Director Alton Perry said, is the Youth STEAM Summit that The Roanoke Center sponsors to increase awareness of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, agriculture and mathematics. 

The coronavirus pandemic forced the event’s cancellation the past two summers, but plans for the 2022 Summit have begun.

“We couldn’t be more appreciative to have received this award from the North Carolina Sustainable Forestry Initiative,” Perry said. “Forestry and agriculture are central to the way of life and to the economy in northeastern North Carolina. It is tremendously important that the region’s youth know more about these fields — and all STEM disciplines for that matter – and recognize the career opportunities they present.”

Jadie Andrews, vice chairman of NC SFI’s Implementation Committee, said the organization sees The Roanoke Center’s youth programs as an ideal means to help advance the Sustainable Forestry Initiative’s ideals.

“Responsible forest management is at the heart of sustainable forestry,” Andrews said. “That requires a long-term commitment on the part of woodland owners, and that can’t happen without younger generations getting involved over time. Typically, it also requires lots of input from forestry professionals, and that’s why we’re excited about the work that Alton and his colleagues are doing to educate young people about career opportunities.”