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Alumni Spotlight: Shawn DeRome (BSFR ’14, MFR ’16)

Where business sense meets environmental stewardship


On any given day, Shawn DeRome’s job involves some strategy. And market research. And international affairs. And environmental stewardship.

Shawn DeRome“Part of what drew me to forestry in the first place was the combination of being able to do things outside, involving the environment, and also having a hand in industry and business,” says DeRome, a manager of business development for Rayonier, a real estate investment and land trust company that owns 2.5 million acres of timberland across the United States and New Zealand. “I’m supporting the environment while also having a good, solid job.”

Based in Fernandina Beach, DeRome analyzes timber marketing strategies and potential land purchases. She studies regional timber markets, makes projections for the coming years, investigates new parcels to add to Rayonier’s portfolio and researches how mills and end-product demand are affecting timber prices.

The experience gives her both a macro and a micro view of the timber industry, she says, and she’s able to blend her undergraduate experience with graduate work in the Langdale Center for Forest Business for a successful career.

“I kind of like knowing that I know a little bit of everything in the industry—I like the mill side, I like the land side, I like the environmental side, and I also like the business and global influence of forestry, and just being able to help our company through a variety of different outlets,” she adds. “It’s understanding the global economy, but also what’s going on at the individual mill level.”

DeRome discovered Warnell as an undergraduate student at the University of North Georgia. Her original plan was to go into agriculture, but during a zoology class her professor, also a Warnell graduate, learned of DeRome’s interests and steered her toward a career in forestry.

“So, once I looked into it, I said, ‘Yeah, this is what I want to do,’” she adds. 

And she’s thankful for the training she received as a forest business student. Not only did it set her on the career path that she’s on today, but she continues to cherish the personal connections she made through faculty.

“We have the world’s best professors in terms of in-the-field industry experience and real-world knowledge,” she says. “It’s the most unique program out there, and it’s unique because of the professors we have and the opportunities and exposures you get in the program, and the opportunities you have to network. Just knowing (professors) Bob Izlar and Jacek Siry, they are all good people to know in the industry.” 

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