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Teachers Learning Forestry
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Teachers Learning Forestry

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By Bill Frazer

The Chambers County Forestry Planning Committee hosted Chambers County School Teachers at the Farmers Federation Building last Wednesday. Eighteen teachers from Chambers County Board Of Education, Lanett City Schools, Springwood School and invited guests were in attendance.

This a program promoting forestry that has been an annual affair for past 25 years. One would think what purpose could be served by exposing these teachers to forestry education? Why would the principals think that it would benefit their schools to hire a substitute teacher while these teachers are out of the class room? Answer:

1.Forestry is not only the second largest industry in the State but in Chambers County as well. Up until recently, forestry was the largest industry in the county, but now the auto plants have surpassed forestry economics. Most of the millennial have no idea of the commercial impact of forestry to the community.

2.Our hard-working teachers can pass along this knowledge to hundreds of children in our area. It is good for the forestry community to have the opportunity to address the importance of forestry not only in the business sector but the environmental impact it has as well.

3.If you would ask any elementary student, especially in the cities, if it was OK to cut a tree, almost all of them would say NO. They do not realize that trees are not only used to manufacture lumber, but a host of other products such as newspaper, books, toilet paper, printing paper, paper towels and card board are tree products. If plastic is substituted for these products, it would indeed be more hazardous to the environment.

4.Most students are aware that lumber is a necessity in the building industry and fire wood is a way of life in some of our communities. But there are other products as well such as rayon, wood pellets used in electrical generation, charcoal briquettes for barbecuing and carbon fiber that is used to insulate space capsules that are wood derivatives..

5.The forestry generates a lot of tax revenue for our economy. More taxes are derived from a logging truck in a day than a pickup owner would pay for the entire year.

6.Teachers are shown how the mathematics that they teach is used in the real world. Measuring the volume and value of standing timber is utilizing statistics obtained from probability measurements which is nothing but use of higher mathematics.

Addressing the group included Dr. David Hall (Professor Emeritus Auburn University). Dr. Hall is a participant in the holders of 37 patents mostly on the uses of wood fiber. Dr. Hall demonstrated a recent pattern in which cotton cloth would not hold moisture. It is a boon for the wearer of cotton clothing on a hot summer day when the body sweats. Dr. Hall went on to talk about the use of tree fiber in the space program. He explained how carbon (waterless wood fiber) is used to insulate the space capsule. Remember that you can ignite the top side of a piece of charcoal and hold the piece of charcoal in your hand because the bottom of the piece has no heat. Dr. Hall demonstrated a cotton fiber sleeve that he helped patent used by butchers and other knife users. You can not take the knife blade and cut the fabric.

T. R. Clark, Alabama Registered Forester and Manager of F & W Forestry Services in LaFayette, gave a forestry fun quiz to the group. Some of the questions were: who owns most of the forest land in Alabama, what is the environmental impact of tree culture, and what is a natural forest. Of course the participants were not expected to know all the answers, but it allows group participation in the answers. Of the 5 tables participating, the table with the most correct answer each was awarded a valentine candy box.

Before lunch, the teachers and guest were escorted on a tour of the East Alabama sawmill located in LaFayette. Brian Potts led the group mill and explained the mill operations. The mill is a high tech computer run operation. The mill is able to saw full tree-length pines. The computers are programmed to saw a curved tree to create a straight board rather than have to cull trees with crooked forms. The saw dust and bark generated at the mill is used to fire the kilns that dry the sawed lumber. It takes anywhere from 45 to 50 truck loads of logs daily to supply the saw mill. The mill saws an estimated 300,000 board feet daily, enough to build 30 houses.

After an excellent meal provided by Creme Fraiche, the group divided into 4 groups to measure the volume of merchantable timber on plots behind the building. Foresters Jerry Schwarzauer, Matthew Lowe, Rodney Walker, Ben Simms and Brian Potts led the teachers in exercise that Foresters use to estimate standing volume and value.

After the timber cruise, the group gathered to watch a hand tree-planting demonstration by James (Moto) Williams of the Alabama Forestry Commission. A hand tree-planter can plant 1 acre plus in a day using a spacing of 6′ by 10′ (726 trees). Clyde Lamb’s local tree planting contractor demonstrated machine planting which 10+ acres can be planted per day.

The teachers and guests gathered in the building at the close of the day to see which Forester and his group had the best estimate of the timber volume and value. Rodney Walker’s table was the winner and his group received the high tech flash lights and knife donated by LaFayette True Value Hardware and Newman Farm Supply.

It is a reward to the sponsors of the program when the participants indicate interest and seem to enjoy the efforts of leaders to provide not just a learning experience but an enjoyable day as well. This group was an inspiration to the volunteers who donated their time and expertise to provide an educational adventure.

Certainly, most importantly, we thank the financial sponsors of the program. Without the help of Farmers & Merchants Bank and Charter Bank, we could not have provided an excellent meal for the participants. Thank you for your interest in providing resource to educate our community.

The Committee recognizes that teachers are the leaders in developing minds. It allows us an opportunity to show the teachers and interested parties that forestry is a significant part of our community. Thank you for the privilege of having direct contact with teachers who impact the minds of our next generation.