Emerging Leaders: Unveiling the Future of Wood Flooring

More than 100 eager students gathered to learn about the timeless art of wood flooring
during the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)’s Emerging Leaders Council
(ELC)’s student event. This gathering during the 2023 NWFA Expo served as a platform for students from four local schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to immerse themselves in the world of wood. The event was topped off with a scavenger hunt on the show floor, making it an unforgettable day for all.

The event kicked off with Lenny Hall of Endurance Floor Co. guiding students through the art of woodwork. Under his expert tutelage, the students were able to create custom wood pieces to take home as tokens of their participation in this memorable event. As the scent of fresh wood shavings filled the air, the students were able to unleash their creativity and learn the fundamentals of woodworking. Hall’s passion for the craft was infectious, and he left an indelible mark on each student, igniting their interest in the world of wood.

Emerging Leaders Council

Young talent that is passionate about the flooring trade and desires to keep the industry thriving.

The charismatic Kayleen McCabe, a television host, advocate for skilled trades, and licensed
contractor, brought her energy and enthusiasm to the event as the emcee, ensuring that the day’s proceedings were as lively as they were informative. Her engaging presence kept the students captivated throughout the event. With her witty anecdotes and deep knowledge of the industry, she effortlessly bridged the gap between the students and the world of wood flooring.

One of the highlights of the event was the inspiring panel discussion that featured Luiz Perez of Hero Flooring. Perez shared his incredible life story, which served as a testament to the limitless possibilities within the world of wood and flooring. From humble beginnings to becoming a trailblazer in the field, his journey left a profound impact on the students, instilling in them a belief that with dedication and passion, they too can achieve greatness.

After those enriching sessions, the students were given the opportunity to explore the expansive show floor. To make it even more exciting, an entertaining scavenger hunt awaited them, courtesy of the ELC partners. The students eagerly scoured the floor, learning about the latest innovations, industry trends, and networking with industry professionals.

The scavenger hunt also encouraged the students to engage with exhibitors and learn about the diverse facets of the wood flooring industry. It was an invaluable experience that allowed them to gain insights into the real-world applications of their newfound skills.

The student event was not just a one-day affair; it served as a bridge between seasoned professionals and the next generation of wood flooring enthusiasts. With events like these, the NWFA is ensuring that the legacy of wood flooring lives on and flourishes in the hands of the next generation. That’s why we will be hosting a similar student day during next year’s NWFA Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana. To get involved with the Emerging Leaders Network, please reach out to Katie Schenk, NWFA’s ELC liaison, at katie.schenk@nwfa.org.

Renee Tester is the chair of the NWFA Emerging Leaders Council and marketing director, the Americas for Kährs in Altamonte, Florida. She can be reached at renee.tester@kahrs.com.

NWFA Wood Studies Scholarship Highlight

Luke Schofield and Alden Whitney

Luke Schofield
Dahlonega, GA

The NWFA Education & Research Foundation (NERF) Wood Studies Scholarship promotes the post-secondary study of forestry and forestry-related sciences. This nonrenewable scholarship for $1,000 each is awarded to one high school senior and one current college student who will study forestry to advance and improve forestry practices for generations to come.

This year’s high school scholarship recipient, Luke Schofield, will attend Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, majoring in environmental studies.

“My goal is to study both environmental science and public policy – with classes in economics as well – to formulate comprehensive plans for the future that ensure both the sustainability of our environment and the sustained growth of the wood flooring industry and others like it,” says Schofield.

Alden Whitney
Olympia, WA

The college student scholarship recipient is Alden Whitney. He majors in forestry with a minor in fire science and wildlife biology at the University of Montana, Davidson Honors College in Missoula, Montana.

“I always knew that I wanted a career and education that would have me outside in the place I love,” says Alden. “In the future, I hope to have a job that will allow me to have a hand in practicing sustainable management and production of timber on various forest lands.”

NERF was established to provide industry research and educate future generations of wood flooring professionals. Thanks to the generosity of its members, NWFA has conducted such research as the Life Cycle Analysis of Wood Flooring and awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships since its creation.

To learn more about this scholarship opportunity and others offered, visit nwfa.org/scholarships/.

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