Victor L. Harris is a native of Athens, Georgia. The seventh born of 10 children, he spent his childhood exploring the forest surrounding the housing project where he grew up. That’s where he gained his appreciation for nature and his love of the outdoors. After high school, he became the first in his family to attend college when he was accepted into the forestry program at Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University. Harris completed the program at Tuskegee and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in forestry at North Carolina State University, with a concentration in economics.
Harris has over 30 years of experience in forest management and urban natural resource management. After graduation from NC State, he accepted the position of area forester with the Virginia Department of Forestry, becoming the first Black forester in the history of the agency.
As area forester, Harris served Henrico County and the City of Richmond. He worked one on one with private landowners, preparing forest management plans, and providing assistance on timber harvesting, reforestation, managing wildlife, and recreational opportunities, protecting and improving water quality and improving forest aesthetics. Harris was also responsible for managing the forest fire control, insect and disease control, and the urban and community forestry programs within his work areas.
Harris joined the North Carolina Division of Forest Resources as head of engineering services in 1994 and was later promoted to assistant state forester for administration. As a member of senior management, Harris and his staff were responsible for managing the Division’s $60 million annual budget and providing administrative support and direction to over 700 employees in over 100 offices across North Carolina. He led staff responsible for the Division’s finances, human resources, capital improvements, purchasing, contracts, information technology, and other administrative areas.
In his position, Harris also served as the Division’s Title VI coordinator and outreach coordinator, working in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. He led the Division’s diversity efforts by recruiting and hiring forestry students and graduates from Tuskegee University and Alabama A&M University.
Harris resigned from the Division of Forest Resources in 2005 to reestablish Cierra Publishing Company, a company he first started in 1993. He began publishing Minority Landowner Magazine in 2005 and serves as publisher and editor. Minority Landowner chronicles the challenges and successes of minority farmers, ranchers and forest landowners across the country, with a mission of providing information to help them improve productivity of their land management operation, which can lead to increased profitability, thus increasing the chances they will be able to maintain ownership of their land.
He also serves as a consultant, designing and facilitating minority landowner forestry workshops in North Carolina and South Carolina; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service agriculture workshops for farmers in South Carolina and Texas; USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station forestry workshops in Mississippi and Georgia; and mobile information technology workshops designed for farmers and landowners in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Mississippi. He’s invited to speak nationally, recently delivering a keynote at the 15th North American Agroforestry Conference on the campus of Virginia Tech.
Harris is a North Carolina Registered Forester, a Fellow of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute and a Certified Public Manager. He served on the Woodlands Committee of the American Forest Foundation and is a past Board member of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, an organization that supports over 20 local land trusts across the state.