First, let me extend a warm welcome to the current members of the Mississippi Biomass and Renewable Energy Council. I'm extremely honored to be elected as the president of the Mississippi Biomass and Renewable Energy Council (MBREC) for 2013. For many who don't know me, I'm a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a graduate of both Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University. Between 1980 and 2005 I was employed by Westvaco and MeadWestvaco (i.e. Fortune 500 Pulp & Paper Company) as a research scientist and later became project leader and center leader. In late 2006 I took a position in the Forestry Department at Mississippi State University. Like many of you, I was unaware of MBREC and their efforts in championing renewable energy in Mississippi. In 2008, I was asked to give a short presentation at the 7th Annual Southern Bioproducts & Renewable Energy Conference on "Woody Biomass Training Resources." Because the forest industry is so closely tied with the use of renewable energy and biobased products, my views and MBREC's views were a natural fit. Since that time, I've tried to remain affiliated with the group. I was lucky enough to serve on the board of directors, as the vice-president in 2012 and now as president of the council. I can honestly say the one trait which impressed me the most about those affiliated with MBREC is their passion to see that Mississippi is among the leaders in the area of sustainability.
While our small group is very enthusiastic about our cause, we need others to join with us. Together, we can bring about a change within Mississippi that will put our state in the forefront of renewable energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable practices. We need others to help us evaluate our model and suggest ways to make MBREC the foremost authority concerning these areas in our state. If we can do this, we can hopefully attract those firms that are looking to locate a sustainable industry venture in the southern United States. However, this can only happen if we not only increase our membership but also challenge those members to become an active voice within MBREC. Our goal in 2013 is fairly simple: We need to attract more members to MBREC to help us champion renewables and sustainability in Mississippi, and who knows, maybe even the entire southern region.