By Rachel Snoddy, Chambers County Extension Coordinator
The Chambers County Forestry Planning Committee hosted 15 teachers from around Chambers County on Valentine’s Day for their annual Forestry In-Service Training. This program is designed to teach local educators about the forestry industry with presentations and hands-on experiences.
The day started with a presentation from John Stivers of Tanyard Timber LLC. Stivers shared many statistics, history, benefits, and commodities of forestry. “Due to bad intel, people say ‘stop cutting trees’, but that isn’t the answer.” Stivers said. ”They key is wisdom. Timber is sustainable. Trees grow.” Chambers County used to be primarily pasture and row crop land, but now is about 80% forest land. Only 4 states have more forest land than Alabama. Forestry is an incredibly important industry, not only for jobs, but also the numerous products it gives us and the recreational uses of forest land.
T.R. Clark then gave the teachers a fun quiz to test their forestry knowledge. After the quiz, everyone loaded up on a bus to head to East Alabama Lumber Company for a tour, which was the favorite of the day according to the teachers. During the tour, the group was able to see the entire process of turning a cut tree into usable lumber of various sizes, including seeing the computer programs that measure and plan cuts, as well as grade the cut boards. The group also learned that the saw dust from the mill is used to fire the kilns that dry the lumber on site, and the bark is sent off to be turned into mulch. Everything gets used!
After the tour, the group returned to the Farmer’s Federation building for a delicious lunch. The teachers were then split into groups led by local foresters to participate in hands-on timber cruising in the woods behind the building. Jerry Schwarzauer, Brian Potts, Phil Tarver, Ben Sims, Ty Niblack, Cal Harrell, and Mathew Lowe helped the teachers learn how to estimate the amount of standing timber on their assigned plots behind the building. Next, everyone gathered to see James (Motto) Williams from the Alabama Forestry Commission demonstrate reforestation techniques.
Finally, the teachers and foresters gathered in the building to complete their timber cruise calculations. Chick Fil A gift cards were given to the group with the cruise estimate closest to the actual value as well as to the teachers with the highest score on the fun quiz from earlier in the day.
The Forestry Planning Committee thanks the financial sponsors of the program, Center State Bank and F&W Forestry, as well as the speakers and foresters who helped make the program a success.