Bettina Ring (’86 B.S. in forestry and wildlife) is right at home in the woods. Last May, she joined the American Forest Foundation as senior vice president of family forests, bringing over 25 years of experience to the job. She began her career at the Virginia Department of Forestry, where she moved up through the ranks from area forester to deputy state forester.

After 14 years at the Department of Forestry, Ring headed west, working in leadership roles at the Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts, the Wilderness Land Trust, and the Bay Area Open Space Council. “Going west allowed me to experience a whole different culture and environment, which helped me grow both personally and professionally,” she explained.

Ring’s work with the American Forest Foundation involves traditional on-the-ground outreach as well as innovative digital work with family forest owners all over the United States. She joined the foundation just as the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit launched, a website for woodland owners who are just beginning to explore their land.

“Having the opportunity to work in both the East and the West greatly expanded my personal and professional growth and broadened my perspective and understanding of people and their relationship to the land,” Ring said. “I came to not only appreciate the unique differences in the landscapes and cultures but to embrace and celebrate that diversity.”

Ring, who rose to success in a male-dominated industry, is a proponent for the advancement of women in her field. “It’s been great to see women that I’ve worked with be promoted to management positions,” she noted. “I had a lot of support when I worked for the Department of Forestry, and it’s important for us to do whatever we can within the forestry community to be more inclusive and to make sure we’re being relevant and representative of the communities in which we serve.”

“I’m lucky enough to have loved every job I’ve had,” she added. “I’m also very fortunate to have studied forestry at Virginia Tech. I’m a proud Hokie. My time at the university was great because I was challenged. It was a rigorous program, but having that academic challenge was important.”

Over the years, many professors and colleagues have inspired Ring. “Dr. David Smith is an incredible man who served as a mentor for me over the years,” she stressed. “My dendrology professor, the late Dr. Peter Feret, was my college advisor and later became a colleague when we established the Virginia Urban Forest Council. He was very influential and his legacy lives on.”

Ring is an avid animal lover and enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking, reading, gardening, kayaking, hiking, and doing yoga. “I really enjoy the outdoors and I look forward to having a small farm and woodlot someday,” she said.