May 23 – Nineteen agricultural students from Alcona High School attend a Michigan Works! Talent Tour at various Harmon Logging sites. The presenters were Foresters from Biewer Forest Management in McBain, MI (Biewer was the Bid purchaser for the sale we were working on), AIS Equipment in Williamsburg, MI (they are the John Deere Dealer for Forestry Equipment in our area), and Harmon Logging.
The first site location was part of the Mack Lake Fire from the 1980's. The Forest Service presenter gave the students lots of facts and information on how the area was affected and how the regeneration has taken place. The Jack Pine block was being clear cut and chipped for Kirtland Warbler Management.
The students got to walk up to the block next to the one they were cutting to see Jack Pine at the stage in its growth where the birds would be nesting, although they did not see any Kirtland Warblers during the tour.
The presenters explained that it is important to understand how the forest management is done for the conservation of this species and many others. The block they will be cutting will be replanted. They also covered how logging mimics what nature will do naturally to regenerate a forest (often by fire). This helps maintain the health of the resource, as well as help with fire suppression. They also covered how logging and harvesting has a better effect on the environment, since they utilize all of the resource and it is 100% renewable - compared to Wind and Solar, which will leave landfill that is non-biodegradable. They also talked about how fire affects the atmosphere/climate and why it is good to try and prevent it through harvesting and proper management.
The Forest Service presenter explained how forest management is a science and they have guidelines on how and why they manage the forest. The government puts the sale up for bid and the mill or logger who wins the bid pays to cut the trees and then sells them to companies that utilize the raw product. The students got to see a Buncher cut down trees on this site, a Grapple Skidder bring them to the chipper, which chipped and loaded vans to take to the Cogen plant in Lincoln, MI to be used in the production of electricity.
The Red Pine thinning block was the second site the students got to see. On this job they saw a Processor that processes logs according to mill specifications and watched a Forwarder bring the logs out of the woods to load trailers to go to the mill. Along with information on this type of harvest, they learned about the mechanization of how mills process wood, how much finished product they produce, along with the types of lumber they use to produce different types of products.
On both of these jobsites, students were able to get into machines and ask detailed questions about them to the operators. They also went over what jobs are available on a logging crew, what their jobs entail, and what the average pay and benefits are in the industry, giving students information on an industry that pays a living wage that they may not think of.
At the end of the tour, Michigan Works! staff discussed the online Career Pathfinder tool and other resources students could use to learn more about careers in forestry. The student surveys were very positive, with many noting that they learned a lot during the tour.