By Frank Lewis
When students are out for the summer, arguably the most important thing they can learn is about the environment. That’s why Shawnee State Forest hosted Forestry Field Day on May 16 sponsored by the Scioto Soil and Water Conservation District. Also in mid-May Fernwood State Forest staged Outdoor Field Day, sponsored by the Jefferson SWCD.
“Both events were organized by local Soil and Water Conservation districts,” Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester, said. “The ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) Division of Forestry is pleased to have hosted and participated in these events because it allows students to see how we use good forest management practices in our 21 state forests.”
Kate Sowards, Scioto SWCD Conservation Education Coordinator, told the Portsmouth Daily Times, the turnout was good for the event at Shawnee State Forest.
“We had over 500 kids come out and we did it in partnership with the Southern Ohio Loggers Chapter,” Sowards said. “Glatfelter, as well as the Ohio Division of Forestry, we had quite a few people out there helping with the kids.”
Sowards said they talked about wood products to the students that day.
Students from Portsmouth, Portsmouth West, Clay, Green, Minford and Northwest participated in the program.
“We had stations including Mike Sissel from Sissel Logging who showed the kids how the equipment works for the harvest, and talked to them about safety,” Sowards said. “Jared Lute from R.L. Lute Logging, talked to kids about invasive species. The Nile Township Fire Department came out and talked about forest fires and fire safety.”
In addition Shawnee Forest Manager Dale Egbert talked to the children about timber harvest managerment and Scott Lewis, the wildlife specialist from Scioto County SWCD discussed woodland wildlife and Sowards taught a lesson on the anatomy of trees.
“The kids spent at leat 20-30 minutes at each station and they made their way around, then had a picnic lunch,” Sowards said. “It was a really great event.”
Forestry stations included a 1/5 scale circular mill model and a visit with Smokey Bear.
“They got a lot of good information,” Sowards said. “They learned little bits and pieces about the entire forest industry for everything from how trees grow to what we use them for to how do I identify them? Everything we could possibly fit in there. We tried to show them all different angles of it.”
To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.