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Forest Service and Orofino High School Team up for Idaho State Forestry Contest

Kamiah, Idaho With the help of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest and funds made available through the North Central Idaho Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), Orofino High School will be sending two teams to Farragut State Park, Athol, Idaho to compete in the Idaho State Forestry Contest May 11.  The two teams are comprised of students from Mrs. Louise Allen’s Fisheries, Wildlife & Forestry class. 

Mrs. Allen submitted a proposal to the RAC and was subsequently awarded approximately $7,500 to purchase “tools of the trade” used by foresters and to provide for field trips for the entire class, and to cover travel expenses for the Forestry teams’ trip to the competition.

The North Central Idaho RAC is one of five Idaho advisory committees established in 2000 by the “Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000″ (Public Law 106-393). The 15-member committee reviews and proposes projects benefiting National Forests.

“We were excited to see the RAC had approved Mrs. Allen’s proposal,” said Cheryl Probert, Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest Supervisor. “Mrs. Allen and Orofino High School are providing students, our communities and local land managers like the Forest Service with an incredible service. They’re helping develop the next generation of land stewards and natural resource professionals. I hope other local schools use this class as a model!”

The class is largely hands-on, with plenty of outdoor activities and field trips. Students have visited fish hatcheries, Dworshak Dam, tested water quality on Orofino Creek, and will tour local mills and the smokejumper base later this spring. The RAC funds purchased forestry tools like loggers’ tapes, compasses, clinometers and increment borers (used to determine tree height and age, respectively). The class also received field guides for identifying important plant species, noxious weeds, insects, and diseases. 

With so many fun activities, it’s no surprise that Mrs. Allen’s class has become wildly popular with students. She now teaches two sections of the course, and both are full to capacity. “Unlike some of my other classes where I have a hard time imaging how to apply what I’m learning to my life, everything in this class seems so relevant. It’s science that makes sense,” said Libby Bradbury, OHS Junior. “We see things like the trees, the water, the wildlife every day, and that makes it so interesting. And we’ve learned about a lot of jobs in our area that we didn’t know about before.”

Although the Idaho State Forestry Contest is being held the same day as baseball, softball and track districts, Mrs. Allen still had enough students for two teams. The Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest is sponsoring the teams, and provided logo shirts, water bottles and rain gear for the event. Several land management professionals also invested time in class and during weekends helping coach the teams, including Bridgette Cafferty from Idaho Department of Lands and Eileen Rowan of Clearwater Soil & Water Conservation District.

FS/OHS Team One members are: Grayson Atkins, Patrick Atkins, Dalton Lee and Kadee Wilson. Team Two members are: Grace Beardin, Libby Bradbury, Virginia Cafferty and Shaylee Taylor.