Southern Perspective

The official blog of the Southern Group of State Foresters

Vickie  Roberts Ratliff

A Landowner's Year in Review

December 29th, 2017
Fourth-generation forest landowner
Author, "Roberts Rules of Land Retention"


As I reflect on my life goals, I realize that 2017 has been a year of intense growth. "Roberts' Rules for Land Retention: Using Your Land to Create Generational Wealth,” the first in a series of landowner guides on which I’ve been working, was finally published in June. I facilitated 14 landowner outreach meetings in different counties in Mississippi among my landowner peers, agriculture, and land experts. In November, I facilitated a workshop for the National Black Farmers and Urban Gardeners Conference in Atlanta, and the Roberts Tree Farm was honored to be featured in the Southern Group of State Foresters' People of Forestry regional video series. With only a few days left in the calendar year, I wonder what else may happen before the end of the year.

Landowner Vickie Roberts Ratliff was one of nine individuals featured in the SGSF video series, People of Forestry.
Landowner Vickie Roberts Ratliff was one of nine individuals featured in the SGSF video series, People of Forestry.

What a sense of accomplishment this year has brought, after many years of work to finally birth the vision that had been placed in my spirit to assist other landowners in this journey.

As a fourth-generation forest landowner and sixth-generation farmer, I am very much tied to the land. My family bought the Roberts Farm in 1927. Those ancestral ties are really important to me.

This year I feel like I am walking out my life purpose, to be a good steward of my family’s land and help others to do the same with their land.  I tell every landowner, you need to get your forest management plan. When I was president of the Montgomery County Forestry Association, it was my key platform. Get a management plan, get certified, and get some help from forestry experts. There is so much to know and understand - it is helpful to reach out to a consulting forester. State and federal resources are available to assist landowners with management plans and offset the costs of certain forestry practices.

However, if you want to take part in those programs, you have to have a clear title to the land. Getting into probate issues can be tricky, but that is part of my mission—to help landowners walk through the maze of land, literacy, and legacy. If you want to use your land to create generational wealth, you must have a clear title. My goal is to be a catalyst in the metamorphosis process of disenfranchised people by sharing my story - having a conversation about the trials and opportunities of stewarding fourth generation ancestral property and helping encourage those people to have meaningful multi-generational talks with their family members about ancestral property.

This year has given me the opportunity to pay homage to my Creator, for the VISION; to my ancestors, for their sacrifices; and finally, to my parents, for entrusting me with their vision for the land.

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