The Forestry Challenge is an academic event developed for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry topics. Participants spend four days in the forest learning about the ecology and management of the forested landscapes that provide communities with water, recreational opportunities, wood products and wildlife habitat.
Since its inception in 2003, the program has grown from one event to five, marking a complete build-out of the program in California, which may expand outside the state in the future.
Youth benefit by better understanding the relationship of the forested environment to their community, say organizers, by exposure to natural resource management as a potential career option and by undertaking a rigorous critical thinking exercise which is timely and addresses current forestry topics such as wildfire, insects, and forest health.
Right now pre-registration is open to any high school or student group that is interested in going to an event in the fall. Pre-registration by May 31 affords schools a 30% discount on registration fees. Organizers point out that programs are open to scout groups, home schools, charter schools and other entities, provided youth are high school-age. Additionally, schools are welcome to attend whatever location they prefer; the program choice need not be based on what is closest.
- Shasta – September 27 to 30 – Mountain Meadows Camp east of Redding
- Sequoia – October 11 to 14 – Quaker Meadow Camp east of Porterville
- El Dorado – October 25 to 28 – Leoni Meadows Camp south of Placerville
- San Bernardino – November 8 to 11 – Green Valley Lake Christian Camp near Lake Arrowhead
- Santa Cruz – November 15 to 18 – Redwood Christian Park near Boulder Creek
For more information, please contact Forestry Challenge Coordinator Diane Dealey Neill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-417-1960.
The goals of the Forestry Challenge are to teach students the basic principles of forestry, connecting classroom math and science to hands-on experiences with real-world applications, enabling them to make recommendations about natural resource management.
The program strives to give students the opportunity to explore careers by interacting with natural resource professionals including foresters, hydrologists, soil scientists, wildlife biologists, and fire scientists.
- Students gain scientific knowledge and learn practical skills involved in environmental stewardship, as well as understand the complexities of balancing social, environmental and economic values.
- Students who may have never set foot in a forest environment have an increased appreciation for the woods and a desire to incorporate outdoor activities into their lives.
- Students are more likely to choose a career path in natural resources and attend college.
- Students participate as a team representing their school and learn important lessons of cooperation, teamwork and public speaking.
Field Test: Working as a 2 to 5-person team, students complete a comprehensive field test, which includes identifying and measuring trees, analyzing stand data, and making forest management decisions.
The scores from the testing stations are combined, and become 60% of the team’s final score.
Focus Topic Fieldtrip: Students are presented with a current focus topic and visit the site of a case study to ask questions and collect data. They use the information they collect to weigh in on the topic, often influencing the decisions made about managing the forest in the future. Focus topics in 2015 included community wildfire protection, mobile app development, even-aged plantation management, and forest inventory.
Presentation: Guided by two consultation sessions with a Registered Professional Forester, students use all available information to put together a 15-minute presentation. A panel of three judges scores the presentation, which is worth 40 percent of the final event score. Top teams have given these presentations to the CA Board of Forestry, the CA Licensed Foresters Association, and the Forest Landowners of CA.
The Forestry Challenge receives grant funding from the USDA Forest Service. In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.