Foresters and national competitors in lumberjacking, including CS teaching fellow, Kate Witkowski, shared their skills, talents and knowledge with students in on a snow-covered field at Conserve School.
*Above Photo by CS15 student, Liam, Madison, WI.Climbing in harnesses, identifying trees, and prescribing fire burns are just several of the responsibilities shared by our guests speakers on Saturday November 11. Environmental professions take many different forms and we had five guests share with students their work in Wisconsin, Minnesota and out West in urban forestry, timber cruising, and fire management.
During his visit at Conserve School, Ben Whelan demonstrated the work he does for Urban Foresters located in Minneapolis, MN. Students enjoyed watching Ben navigate through the branches with a harness secured to his body and ropes suspending him in the tree. About 40 feet in the air, Ben used tools to remove loose or dead branches. Students learned about the technical components of climbing trees as well as the importance of having services that address tree health in urban areas.
Guests Ben Hansen and Adam LaSalle shared their work with FutureWood and the U.S. Forest Service, respectively. Both work in the field, assessing the size and species of trees on plots of land. They're able to measure and record this information to determine trees that should be harvested. They shared with students the importance of promoting sustainable forestry management by recording tree species as well as noting any signs of wildlife in order to avoid disrupting crucial habitat.
Students used Pulaski and McLeod tools to simulate a fire line that is used with prescribed burns. Guests Sarah and Andrew Gollnick from the Wisconsin DNR talked about the hard work of managing fires as foresters, including the long hours and the inherent risk of working with both prescribed burns and wildfires.
We had around 20 students attend these seminars and afterwards several expressed interests in careers and jobs related to forestry. According to Brita from Duluth, Minnesota, "I attended the Forestry workshops on Saturday because it sounded like a great way to incorporate being outside and learning about different jobs that involve caring for, managing, and being stewards of the forest. I also just wanted to learn more about forestry in general. I do have an interest in a forestry career. I am particularly interested in maybe being an EMT on the site of wildland forest fires."
We offer these seminars to students so that they may be exposed to a variety of educational and professional opportunities after their time at Conserve School. Brita shared her reflection on the seminar, "What I took away from the seminars is that working in forestry is hard and passion is one of the key components to doing the job well. If you are passionate about what you are working towards, then the forest will be taken care of in a safer, better, and more sustainable way. The one part of the forestry seminar that stood out to me was the fire management section. I thought that Sarah and Andrew did an excellent job in presenting the fun and hard parts of their jobs, what they did to get where they are today, and why fire management is important to the overall health of a wilderness area." Whenever we have an opportunity to invite guests to share about their professions and interests, we encourage students to consider how the stories shared by our guests impacts their understanding of environmental stewardship. We look forward to supporting students the rest of the semester as they consider how they can continue growing as environmental stewards after Conserve School.
Not only are these guests experienced in their professional fields but each one also is a national competitors in lumberjacking. These talents were shared in the afternoon on a snow-covered field at Conserve School. Students, staff and guests gathered near a fire then watched the lumberjack demonstrations. Ben Whelan started the demonstration with the springboard chopping event.Possibly the most challenging of the competitive events that requires balance, speed and strength. Other events included axe throwing, the standing chops, and the single buck. The audience was excited to watch the skill and precision of the lumberjack competitor.
Special thanks to Conserve School's Outdoor Skills Teaching Fellow Kate Witkowski (pictured above) for organizing the guest speaker seminars and the lumberjack demonstration.
Thank you to CS15 student, Liam from Madison, WI for all of the additional following action photos!