Natural Resource Education intern, Kira Miller, tells us about her experience bringing two local high school students to the 2017 Shasta Forestry Challenge.
On the evening of Wednesday, September 27th, over 100 students from 14 high schools across Northern California converged at Mountain Meadows Camp in Shingletown for the three-day Shasta Forestry Challenge event. The Greenville High School team – made up of two students, Gary and Sydney – entered the bustling scene, eyes wide and ready to embrace the coming days of community and forestry.
Forestry Challenge is an event where student teams come together to assess a specific forest stand and then design and propose a management plan for that unit. After a morning of field training where students reviewed how to use various forestry tools, we all went out to collect data at a site owned by the Fruit Growers Supply Company. Each team was assigned a plot and had to count the number of trees in that area, identifying them and measuring them along the way. Once back at camp, teams worked to interpret the compiled data from all teams, and had an opportunity to interview foresters as they discussed their potential management plans.
Aside from this main component of the challenge, students were also given a field test to assess the many skills they had learned. Teams rotated between stations with varying tasks and questions about forest management, identifying trees, measuring tree height, determining the basal area of a forest stand, and more. In its entirety, the field test took nearly three hours to complete. I watched the Greenville team with pride as they worked diligently on all their tasks.
In the time that wasn’t spent focused on data collection, field tests, and preparing presentations – which really did take up most of the time – I enjoyed getting to know Gary and Sydney. We talked about families, hobbies, music…and about how incredibly good the food was at this camp. Having bits of free time sprinkled into our schedule helped remind us that we were there for the experience as a whole, and that learning and interacting was much more important than bringing home a plaque.
During these three days, Greenville became known as the “small but mighty” team of two. Though greatly outnumbered in size, they maintained good spirits and worked hard – and their effort didn’t go unnoticed. On our final day, just before awards were announced, a volunteer forester who had assisted with the competition spoke to the crowd about his observations, specifically singling out our Greenville duo.
He acknowledged the difficulties of having such a small team, especially when one of the field test assignments was designed for three people. He watched the team of two work tremendously hard to finish the task and was moved by their persistence. With tears in his eyes, he called Gary and Sydney to the front and presented each of them with an oak leaf – a simple symbol to recognize their dedication. Tears welled in my own eyes as I witnessed this special moment. I felt so honored to be there with them, representing the “small but mighty” Greenville High School.
Through walks in the forest, belly laughs over delicious meals, and unexpected emotion, this year’s Forestry Challenge gave us an experience to remember. I’m glad I got to spend these three days with the Greenville team, having fun with the forest and each other.
This is Greenville’s second year in a row attending the California Forestry Challenge. We thank the Plumas National Forest and Plumas Unified School District who helped support the teams’ participation through Moonlight Fire Settlement dollars.