July 2015 - The Dog Days of Summer are here. I hope you have all had a chance to escape the heat and go to the forest. I'm part way through making my rounds to the various Forestry Challenge sites to set up the fieldtrips and testing and, in general, it hasn't been too hot. Shasta, Sequoia, and part of Santa Cruz are set up (thanks to help from awesome foresters Pete Johnson, Scott Carnegie, David Van Lennep, and Jim Kral), with the other event locations soon to follow.

Pre-registration went well this spring, with about 440 students from 53 schools signed up. Shasta, Sequoia, and Santa Cruz are all at capacity, with space for a few more schools at El Dorado and San Bernardino. Teachers - thanks for getting those forms in so I can plan accordingly for the fall.

In addition to making the rounds in California, I recently attended a teacher workshop in Oregon where I learned a lot about forestry in Oregon, including tours of the woods, and veneer and biomass facilities. I was also able to connect with the good folks from the Oregon Forest Resource Institute, which put on the workshop, and I will be traveling to Portland in late August to talk about expanding the Challenge to Oregon in the future.

I'm also pleased to let you know that I now have two employees: Lori Parlin, a longtime friend, who is helping me with all things technology related, and Annika Duden, a business major at University of Colorado, who is helping me pursue grants and sponsorships. These ladies will be contributing to the success of the Forestry Challenge, hopefully for a long time to come.

Lastly, please be aware that I'll be out of touch for a few weeks this month, as I backpack a 126 mile section of the John Muir Trail.

Until Next Month,


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Welcome to the California Forestry Challenge website. Information on the 2015 events is posted on the "events" pages.



What is the Forestry Challenge?

The California Forestry Challenge is a competitive event for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry issues. Using the forest as the classroom, the California Forestry Challenge is project-based learning at its best.

Highlights include:

  • Field Training: Forestry professionals spend time with the students familiarizing them with common tree species, forestry tools, and the use of identification keys. This training serves as a review of information and equipment already sent to teachers during the summer.
  • 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 forest 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. 2014 focus topics included reforestation after a massive wildfire, forest management during a drought, and developing a Firesafe plan for one of the event host facilities.
  • 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% of the final event score. Top teams have presented to the CA Board of Forestry, the CA Licensed Foresters Association, and the Forest Landowners of CA.

If you would like to donate to help offset student and program expenses, use the PayPal button below.

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