SUMMIT TOWNSHIP, Maine — Graduates of Maine’s only college training program for operators of mechanized logging equipment were recognized Thursday, Sept. 15 at a ceremony held at the site in Summit Township where they have spent weeks harvesting timber using sophisticated machines utilized in the contemporary logging industry.
Nine students were recognized at the event. They included Wyatt Ryder of West Paris, Wyatt Baruch of Madison, William Osgood of North Yarmouth, Stephen Pare of Norwalk, Mason Rowe of New Vineyard, Isaac Valley of Sanford, Eligh Norwood of Gray, Cole Chamberlain of Caribou, and Andrew Shaw of Whitefield. All nine have already secured employment in the logging industry or received job offers they are considering.
Students in the 12-week Mechanized Logging Operations Program spent this summer harvesting timber at the site, gaining hands-on logging experience and benefiting from the guidance of veteran logging instructors for an educational experience that is unmatched by any other logger training program in Maine and neighboring states.
This year’s class is the sixth since the certificate program launched in 2017. The program, offered through Northern Maine Community College, provides students a broad overview of the most common mechanical systems found in modern timber harvesting equipment and an understanding of the variables of timber growth, tree species, market flux and a strong emphasis on safety. Courses are taught hands-on in a forest environment, operating the most current equipment in the industry, with supplemental classroom training.
The program was created in 2017 thanks to a partnership between the Maine Community College System, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and industry partners. Supported by the Harold Alfond Center for the Advancement of Maine’s Workforce, students pay no tuition or fees, and the program provides all required personal protective equipment.
Angela Buck, Academic Dean of NMCC, also thanked the many partners who have made the program possible and expressed pride for the accomplishments of the students.
“Congratulations for this work. You have a great future ahead of you,” Buck said. “We are very proud of what you have done and of what you are going to do.”
Will Cole, president of the PLC, congratulated the students and noted the impact the program is beginning to have on an industry that — like all trades — desperately needs new workers. He also thanked the many industry supporters that have made the program possible.
“I’d like to give a round of applause for those folks, as of today through this program, we have completed bringing 70 qualified new people into the industry and I think that’s quite an accomplishment,” Cole said. “60 percent of those who have completed the program are still in the profession and I believe that’s better than most colleges, so we’re headed in a good direction.”
$1 million in dedicated federal funding has been secured to expand the program in 2023 and 2024 and add Commercial Driver’s License instruction to train the next generation of timber haulers.
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $7.7 billion annually.