Students enjoy taking forestry skills learned in class outside

11 years ago

by Angie Wotton
    Last week I attended the high school loggers meet hosted this year by the Region Two School of Applied Technology’s forestry program headed by instructor Ted Wright. The competition, now in its 37th year, is a chance for juniors and seniors in forestry programs statewide to compete in logging events that rely on a mix of traditional and modern skills. The annual loggers meet is also a great opportunity for the students to show off those skills.

    Even the brand new loader and skidder, worth many thousands of dollars, couldn’t outshine the students when they participated in events like the axe throw, handling Peavey tools for log rolling, felling trees and chainsaw cutting. In an industry that is typically male-dominated, it was nice to see girls competing as well.
    Part of the Farmington Mt. Blue team, student Hannah told me that she has been running a chainsaw since she was 8 years old, learning from her grandfather who was a logger. While she felt comfortable running one, she credited the forestry program with teaching her to be more efficient and to handle the chainsaw in a safer way. Her teammate Mikala also learned a love of the woods from her grandfather but her particular favorite aspect is running the logging equipment. She told me that no matter what she decides to do after high school (she really wants to attend a heavy equipment operator program) she will always work in some fashion in the woods whether it be cutting firewood or working with her logger dad.
    When I asked the two if they were a bit intimidated to enter into the forestry program as the only females, Hannah shrugged the question off and said it wasn’t an issue. She also confidently noted that girls generally have more patience and many times outperform the guys in their class anyway.
    Reasons for entering the forestry program varied from students I spoke with but “being outside and in the woods” was a recurring theme. All enjoyed the program and what they had learned while being a part of it.
    Southern Aroostook team member Hugh’s family has a couple hundred acre woodlot and has relatives working in the logging industry. He told me that he enjoyed getting experience through the program. He had helped his family with cutting firewood but had not done anything on a larger scale and learning skills such as harvesting trees efficiently. He is planning on attending the forestry program at the University of Maine Fort Kent next year to become a forester but he also acknowledged that he’s open to seeing what college brings. One thing he is definite about though is that he “definitely wants to be outside.”
    Angie Wotton loves her work as district manager for the Southern Aroostook Soil and Water Conservation District. She also raises pastured pork and vegetables with her husband on their small West Berry Farm in Hammond. She can be reached 532-9407 or via e-mail at angela.wotton@me.nacdnet.net.