Following in the footsteps of forestry teacher Scott Garber – who was on the first place forestry team in 1993 – Pocahontas County High School forestry team members won first place at the state competition in Morgantown, June 2-4.
The team – recent graduate Lyndsee Gay, juniors Adam Irvine and Steven Simmons, and sophomore Matt Rao – were divided into groups at the competition and participated in six events: saw timber cruising, compass and pacing, written exam, tool ID, business exam and tree ID.
Along with the team award, three of the four members placed in the top three in individual competitions. Rao won first; Simmons, second; and Gay, third.
While the team was prepared to work separately, they still felt the familiar jitters when it came to competing.
“I think the thing that we worried about a lot was the saw timber,” Gay said. “The guy that is over all of it measures [the timber] for the contest and he always measures it differently every year, so we don’t really know what to expect.”
“What he thinks is a ten inch top may not be the same as their ten inch top,” Garber added.
The team faced off against 60 students from all over the state. The scores of the four teammates are combined to create the final score. Although they aren’t in the field together, they have to rely on each other to get top score.
“Pretty much, it’s just all trust,” Irvine said.
“You’ve got to trust what you know and don’t second guess yourself,” Gay added. “Those are the biggest things we had to learn.”
With the state title in their pocket, the team is ready to show their skills at the national level.
“They have very good chemistry,” Garber said. “They work very well together. Now we get to see how they talk because there’s an interview portion. Each one of them has to take a forest issue – they have ten minutes to prepare once they are handed the issue and then they get interviewed on the issue. That will be interesting.”
The team will also have to expand their tree knowledge to include tropical and western species.
The skills gained from this experience will benefit the whole team as they all plan to make a career in the forestry field.
“That’s usually how the team is sort of picked,” Garber explained. “The ones that are probably going to go into it later or have a background in it. Two of them – their parents work for the forest service, so it’s in the blood.”
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org