Tree seedlings and tree tubes
Updated: November 21, 2022

Bill Hubbard, Assistant Director - Environmental, Natural Resources & Sea Grant Programs

Greetings. It is a real pleasure to write for our “Branching Out” audience. Andrew Kling and Jonathan Kays do a superb job of writing and editing this publication and I know from hearing from several sources that this newsletter is immensely useful. I imagined contributing in some form or fashion to this effort, and with Jonathan’s retirement earlier this year it seems that Andrew has finally given me the chance! I figured I deserved an opportunity since I’ve been involved in the profession of forestry and Extension in some form or fashion for four decades. That number is heart-stopping to me by the way, as it is represents over two-thirds of my life!  As a state Program Leader for environmental, natural resources and Sea Grant programs, I work with over 40 professionals who have a wide variety of responsibilities from watersheds and climate, to home horticulture and aquaculture. I work alongside three fellow Program Leaders who work with faculty in Agriculture and Food Systems, 4H and Youth Development, and Family and Consumer Sciences. Together we work with over one hundred Extension educators throughout the state. We do that with the tremendous support of many staffers as well.

What never ceases to amaze me is the connections and importance of trees and forests in what many of these educators do, even in areas you would not initially imagine. Today, more than ever, my “non-forester” colleagues are beginning to see that “trees indeed are the answer.” It is because of this that I am truly excited about the future of Maryland’s forests and the people who live, work and play there, as well as those who own, manage or otherwise care for Maryland’s trees and woods.

One example of this is our work to restore, manage and protect Maryland’s waters and watersheds. Maryland Extension, with the support of Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG), employs six regional watershed specialists in the Chesapeake Bay region who provide educational and technical support to communities. The concept of “green infrastructure,” long understood by many in the forestry community, is being discussed more than ever now in the urban, suburban and rural areas of Maryland and around the globe. The fact that trees, native plants and other natural solutions can contribute to reduced stormwater runoff, cleaner water in our watersheds and the Bay, reduced carbon footprint, as well as cool our cities is now hitting home with those in leadership positions. Maryland has a recently-enacted tree planting initiative that aims to support the planting and growing of 5 million trees (500,000 in urban areas) by 2031 with an annual public investment of $10 million per year. And, as the result of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the USDA Forest Service will be managing a $1.5 billion urban forestry/green infrastructure program over the next ten years.

Another example involves efforts with our oyster and aquaculture industry and the importance of trees and forests to the health of our marine ecosystems and economy. Trees and forests act as natural filters that keep our tributaries and Bay free of the undesirable effects of flooded waters, nutrients, pollution and sediments.

Being indoctrinated into the forestry world at an early stage in my career, I see examples everywhere in our work with Extension. Our 4-H programs have forestry activities and plan to send kids to the National Forestry 4-H invitational in West Virginia next year. Our Family and Consumer Science specialists work with our forestry specialists on alternative forest products such as growing Shiitake mushrooms and other foods in our forests. Our Agriculture and Food Systems colleagues have joint programs such as silvopasture (combining grazing pasture and trees) or other agroforestry alternatives, and last but not least, our home horticulture agents work with programs such as the award winning “The Woods in Your Backyard,” which aims at natural area management on small tracts of land.

In the end, you can see, the connections are everywhere. I am proud to be a forester in today’s world and I look forward to making many more connections. I hope you see them too in your everyday life.

Thank you and may the forest be with you.


For more information on Maryland’s tree initiative:

For more information about the USDA Forest Service’s programs that will benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 visit:


Branching Out, Vol. 30, no. 4 (Fall 2022)

Branching Out is the free, quarterly newsletter of the Woodland Stewardship Education program. For more than 25 years, Branching Out has kept Maryland woodland owners and managers informed about ways to develop and enhance their natural areas, how to identify and control invasive plants and insects, and about news and regional online and in-person events.