The Star-Herald

Video promotes logging course, targets students

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine has launched a promotional video charting the success of the new Mechanized Logging Operations Program as recruitment for its next class ramps up.

Maine’s first post-secondary training program for operators of mechanized logging equipment has begun recruiting students for classes to be held in June, building on the success of its first class in the summer of 2017 and utilizing the new video to show potential recruits the opportunities and the future available in the industry.

Northern Maine Community College President Timothy Crowley congratulates students for completing the rigorous Mechanized Logging Operations program, the first of its kind in Maine. A completion ceremony took place Sept. 22 at the program’s training lot near Millinocket. (Courtesy of Northern Maine Community College)

Shot at the first active class site near Medway as well as at business locations including Dover-Foxcroft and Chester, the video combines interviews with students, instructors, industry representatives, wood consumers and logging contractors with footage of students harvesting wood and training in maintenance, safety and forest health practices. With aerial footage, action seen from inside the cabs of mechanized equipment and unscripted interviews, the video provides an up-close look at the program.

“We realized early in our efforts to develop the program that young people today are more likely to develop an interest in a program like this by seeing it,” said Dana Doran, PLC executive director. “Mechanized logging is an exciting industry that lends itself well to video and we are certain that interest in the program will be strong among potential students who view this video on social media platforms, websites, and in presentations.”

The video also highlights the history of logging in Maine, the importance of forest health and environmental stewardship to the profession, and the opportunities for advancement and good-paying careers for young men and women interested in mechanized logging.

The PLC developed the course in partnership with Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor and Washington County Community College in Calais, along with industry partners, in response to industry trends.

Despite the loss of pulp and paper mills, the demand for skilled operators of feller bunchers, harvesters, grapple skidders, forwarders, delimbers and other mechanized logging equipment is strong, said PLC officials. Approximately 95 percent of logging in Maine now relies on mechanized equipment, including feller bunchers and harvesters, delimbers, grapple skidders and forwarders. It generally takes at least a year of training and experience before an operator becomes skilled enough to run this equipment safely and efficiently. The cost for companies to train these operators themselves is approximately $100,000 each.

The Mechanized Logging Operations Program gives students a broad overview of the most common mechanical timber harvesting systems, variables of timber growth, tree species and markets. It also includes a strong emphasis on safety. Students gain hands-on experience operating sophisticated mechanized logging equipment for weeks in the woods, something unavailable anywhere else in Maine and neighboring states.

“We and the many other partners who made this program possible could not be happier with the results achieved in the first class, and we are confident that students in the second class this summer will be just as successful,” Doran said. “The demand for graduates is high, the industry is rebounding, and the future for mechanized logging operators in our state is a bright one.”

The first graduates of the program were recognized in September 2017 at a ceremony held in the woods south of the Medway training site.

The next class for the 12-week certificate program will begin in northern Maine at a date and location now being determined. Expectations for the upcoming class are high; some graduates of the first class received job offers from logging contractors even before they completed the program.

The PLC is encouraging high schools, career centers, and other organizations with connections to potential students to share the video, which is available on YouTube here. For those needing a version suitable for projection purposes, a high-resolution version is available for viewing or download here.

More information on the program is available online at http://www.nmcc.edu/industry-customized-training/mechanized-forest-operations/.

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