Cutting into forestry education
The Natural Resource Department at Crook County High School has started to "branch" out in their class offerings.
Lisa Keown has been the Natural Resource Instructor for CCHS for four years. This will be the first year she will be exclusively at the high school for all her class offerings.
Previously, Keown was split between COCC Open Campus and the high school for her Natural Resource classes.
Currently, she offers three classes in her program that are dual-credit. She also offers an introductory class that is a high school elective credit only. Classes involve many hands on labs and activities as well as field excursions where students have the chance to meet area professionals and participate in real world projects, such as putting up camera stations for wildlife surveys, collecting data for stream surveys, visiting beaver dams, fly-fishing and much more! Students have the option to participate in up to 10 field labs per semester.
This school year, she will be adding another aspect to her Natural Resource program. The School has purchased a portable mill for her program.
"It's something everyone has gotten pretty excited about," she said of the new mill.
Keown indicated that she will integrate the mill into her Forestry class in several ways, and also integrate it into other programs at both the high school and middle school. Some of the products could meet specific needs for both the community and the schools.
The cost of the mill was approximately $18,000, and was paid for through Measure 98 funds. The equipment for the mill was purchased by a distributor called Bailey's, and it is a Lucas Mill Model 830, Portable radial blade sawmill.
This particular model of sawmill has been a big hit since 1996, and there are currently more than 18,000 Lucas Sawmills operating worldwide. This particular one uses a radial blade design to break down logs into accurate lumber.
"This one has a bigger kerf, meaning it cuts out more wood when it makes a cut," explained Keown. "The reason I chose this mill over a band saw, is that the blade is really super strong and it's very safe."
She indicated that when cutting wood such as juniper, or when hitting a nail, it doesn't ruin the mill or create a safety hazard.
"It's pretty straight-forward to use."
Keown added that, because of how the blade is designed, it won't come apart or break and become a safety hazard.
"I am definitely not an expert, I have just been talking and learning from a lot of experts," she said.
A Central Oregon Community College Forestry professor, Bret Michalski, has one of the mills and has been working with her and helping her.
"I was able to work with him and learn how to use it," stated Keown. "He also came out to the school and worked with me and some of my top students."
Keown is still working through the process of creating a student enterprise, and how they will market their products. She pitched a proposal for a logo to the CCHS art class and instructor Kristy Struck. She will soon be choosing a logo to represent their new student enterprise.
She said the challenge will be creating a finished product, given the amount of work in drying the wood, sanding and preparation.
"It could potentially have two or three classes that are involved with the product."
She explained that it will take some time to work through this process, but she believes it has big potential. Even the Crook County Middle School shop class is interested in being part of it.
The mill could meet some needs for smaller projects. Her goal is to eventually be able to trailer the portable mill to sites in the community.
"We don't have the ability yet to bring it to a site, because we need a trailer for that. In the future, the goal would be also to bring it to somebody's' property and be able to mill wood for them on site with the class," she said. "It's very versatile in what we can do."
Natural Resource Program of Study offerings
The Natural Resource Program of Study includes three College Now classes, including Forestry, Wilderness and Recreation, and Wildland Fire. She also offers an introductory class, which offers a science credit, but not college credit.
Keown has expanded her Wilderness class to encompass recreation. It will open up possibilities and opportunities to get students involved in outdoors in meaningful ways. It was previously just a wilderness class.
This class will take in education of recreation on public, county and private lands. It will be incorporated as a dual-credit, College Now class, and it will also be a capstone class — meaning it counts towards an Honors Diploma. Dual credit involves the opportunity to earn both high school credit and college credit simultaneously.
Keown would like to incorporate activities like mountain biking field trips, putting up slack lines, and field trips to climbing gyms and a variety of outdoor activities that students can do.
"That is why I added that recreation piece," she added.
Forestry is a year-long class and students have the option to earn a total of four COCC college credits and one high school credit. Students need to commit to the entire year.
"In the Forestry class, they will be reading research papers and doing some research, and expected to be able to read journal articles," elaborated Keown. "It is an upper-level class, where they will be doing some college-level work."
She said that previous classes have already gone out and conducted forest stand exams, which determines density, basal area, growth rates and canopy cover in particular stands of trees.
"Having the mill allows us to take that next step with that process."
The students will be able to go out and get that data, and will now be able to take the next step to determine how many trees would need to be removed from the stand for productivity.
"Similar to farm to table, this is forest to the product," Keown explained. "The students will actually get to see that full process. In education, the more the students get to see the process and engage in the process, the more they will retain and connect to that."
Wildland Fire is semester one, and Wilderness and Recreation is spring or second semester, and they can take the introduction class either semester. This class is an elective credit, and not college credit. All the classes qualify for a science credit.
The natural resource curriculum encourages students to engage in academic learning, as well as developing work ethic and hands-on learning. She explained that students need to have the desire to do both the academics and the hands-on projects and fields trips.
"Students have to have the desire to do both," indicated Keown. "It's not just hands-on — although that is the major component, and that is what ties it altogether and makes it meaningful — but it is also academic reading and journal articles, and some projects that require research and scientific writing and math skills to utilize and determine basal area and similar concepts."
She said it isn't that it is difficult, but students have to be willing to put forth the time and energy.
Her Introduction to Natural Resources class covers natural resources from fossil fuels to fish and wildlife and how things affect these natural resources. She added that they also discuss climate change and political controversy and how resources are used and how they affect the environment.
"In that class, we don't go on as many field trips."
She said that there are a larger number of underclassmen in this class. They will do some basic activities in the mill yard, such as fire labs and biodiversity labs, as well as timber scaling to determine how much lumber to derive from a log. If the students wants to do more, they have opportunities to observe other field trips.
If students take one year of the natural resource classes and get enough field time for work experience credit, and take another year, they can qualify for an internship credit.
"They can get two elective credits on top of their science or college credits."
Natural Resource Program of Study offerings
Wilderness and Recreation: Spring semester
Wildland Fire: Semester One
Introduction to Natural Resources: Either semester
Forestry: Both Semesters required
All classes offer High School science credit
Wilderness and Recreation, Wildland Fire, and Forestry are College Now classes
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