The Workforce Connections Project has been a priority for FRA’s Western Region for over a year now, so when given the opportunity to attend the Oregon Logging Conference (OLC), and this year’s Future Forestry Workers Career Day – I jumped at it.
The excellent weather helped to make this conference very well attended. Thousands were at the three-day event, including over 1,500 students and educators.
The theme of the 2020 event was “Working Forests: Carbon Keepers.” 2020 OLC President Greg Stratton said “This theme highlights the fact that our industry, the products we produce and the forests we manage are some of the best natural carbon keepers available to the world. Trees store carbon at the highest rate when they are actively growing.” He added, “Once a tree begins to mature, it slows carbon intake and after the tree matures, the process reverses, releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere.” His message to those gathered at the OLC was that in order to maximize carbon sequestration of a forest, trees must be harvested at their peak growth and the ground replanted so the process can be repeated. “While this sounds good with the modern buzz words like carbon sequestration,” Stratton said, “the truth is, this is what our industry has been doing for generations.”
Keynote Speaker Dr. Patrick Moore spoke on “Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom.” As always, Dr. Moore was very engaging, passionate, and thought-provoking.
The best part of the conference – for me as it has been in the past – was the “2020 Future Forestry Workers Career Day” that was held on Friday, February 21. This is the third year that the OLC has incorporated the career day into the conference. Over 775 students from 36 Oregon and Washington schools attended the event. The building was separated into areas for the students to interact with industry professionals to learn about forestry and reforestation, sawmilling, wildland fire fighting, trucking, heavy equipment operations, diesel mechanics, and welding.
Outside, forestry club members from nine schools demonstrated and competed in a variety of logging and forestry skills including cable splicing, crosscut and single buck sawing, power buck sawing, log rolling, and choker setting. It was a popular event, with over 80 high school students competing in skills that will prepare for a career in forestry and logging businesses.
The OLC is the largest logging show of this type west of the Mississippi, but I think many other logging shows – whatever size – could add a similar job fair to educate and excite today’s youth about the possibilities in the forest industry.
Have you attended a similar high school job fair in your area/region? Please contact me at [email protected] with any takeaways that you learned while attending, or volunteering in such events.
As we network on these matters – and as we make more and more Workforce Connections, I look forward to additional similar events bringing employers in contact with those future forestry employees – some who have never even considered the possibilities in our industry.
NOTE: Detailed facts on the Career Day was provided by Mary Bullwinkel, Media/Public Relations – Oregon Logging Conference.
Future Forestry Workers Career Day
Miller Timber educates students on wildland fire basics
Weyerhaeuser’s PNW Forestry Cycle. Photo credit: Mary Bullwinkel
Crosscut competition participants. Photo credit: Mary Bullwinkel