National forests announce public affairs officer

Mary Wood, of Russellville, was recently named lead public affairs officer. (Submitted photo)
Mary Wood, of Russellville, was recently named lead public affairs officer. (Submitted photo)

Russellville resident Mary Wood was recently named the lead public affairs officer for the office of communications for the Ouachita and Ozark-St. Francis national forests in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Wood has been acting team lead since January 2023.

"Throughout my 22-year career, I have been privileged to be mentored by highly supportive, forward-thinking leaders who have generously equipped me and provided the institutional knowledge required to successfully lead a communications team with such a complex program of work. Those mentors have unequivocally saved me a seat at the table of collaboration, provided support and opportunities for leadership development, and committed years of time and energy to ensuring that consistent voices and connections are locally available for the constituents of Arkansas and Oklahoma, and to those visitors to our National Forests every year," Wood said in a news release.

Wood said in the release that she is committed to "advancing the tradition of quality service through partnership and liaison work, working collaboratively to tell the stories of rich conservation practices on public lands in the South, and developing her own team of leaders who also share a desire to find opportunities to grow and learn and listen."

"Public land management agencies are provided a wealth of opportunities to consider the dynamic tensions that make the work we do unique and valuable, and it is our job as communicators to put a voice to those tensions and help tell the story about what a balanced approach looks like, while also fulfilling our mission of sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands," Wood said.

Wood is a 1998 graduate of Arkansas Tech University, where she earned her Communications degree.

Wood replaces Tracy Farley, who served the office of communications on the forests for over 30 years. Farley now remotely serves as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Forest Service's Washington Office, managing a portfolio that supports multiple regions, including Southern Region Forests, and the Forest Service's Wildfire Crisis Strategy, "a robust, 10-year strategy to address the wildfire crisis in the places where it poses the most immediate threats to communities." Farley also serves as a close mentor and adviser to Wood.

Wood can be reached at [email protected].

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