Augusta Free Press

Farm Bureau praises state forester recently appointed secretary of agriculture and forestry

Gov.-elect Ralph Northam announced Dec. 14 his appointment of State Forester Bettina Ring as Virginia’s secretary of agriculture and forestry.

Ring was appointed state forester in 2014 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe. She previously served as senior vice president of family forests for the American Forest Foundation. While employed by the foundation she was responsible for overseeing its American Tree Farm System, the largest and oldest sustainable woodland program in America. The system supports more than 80,000 family forest owners who collectively manage 27 million acres of certified woodlands.

She also spent 14 years at the Virginia Department of Forestry, leaving the agency in 2001 as deputy state forester. In that role she was responsible for operations and helped develop and implement a new mission, vision and strategic plan for the department. In the years following her DOF service, Ring held various leadership positions within nonprofit organizations focusing on natural resources management and conservation, including the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, The Wilderness Land Trust and the Bay Area Open Space Council.

Wayne F. Pryor, president of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the state’s largest farmers’ advocacy organization, called Ring’s appointment an asset for Virginia’s agriculture and forestry sectors.

“Bettina Ring is a superb selection to lead us as secretary of agriculture and forestry,” Pryor said. “We’ve worked with her for many years in her role as state forester, and forest products are a significant part of making agriculture and forestry the top contributors to Virginia’s economy. I look forward to working with Bettina to add to that success.”

Farm Bureau has played a role in the creation of a secretariat of agriculture and forestry within the governor’s cabinet. Virginia’s first secretary of agriculture and forestry was appointed in 2004 under then-Gov. Mark Warner.