by Mary Ann McGarry
The first “Forests of NH Teacher Tour” for educators was rich for many reasons. For many of us, it was the first in-person professional gathering since Covid. Teachers visited an array of different sustainably managed forests by passionate professionals who appreciate their green jobs. We learned about ongoing research regarding silviculture strategies and how mills have become high-tech. We toured industrial, U.S. experimental, and community forests. We discussed how the Chinese are acquiring components of the forest industry in New England and how Covid made saw logs more valuable and the need for pulp for paper dropped.
The fifteen educators from different grade levels and disciplines including a special education professional were invited by their principals to attend. The participants received a treasure trove of resources- including articles, maps, magazines, posters and the internationally renowned Project Learning Tree environmental education curriculum, to help incorporate new learning into their classrooms (https://www.plt.org/).
A suite of primary partners sponsored the program: Sustainable Forestry Initiative, NH Timberland Owners Association, NH Project Learning Tree, and the US Forest Service. Another group of 20 plus professionals, over three days, shared their career paths and showcased their work contributing to NH being the second most forested state in the U.S., 83% (4.74 million acres).1 Thanks to the following- Madison Lumber, RJ Chipping, Wagner Forest Management, Kel-Log, Inc., LandVest, Randolph Community Forest, Bartlett Experimental Forest, Innovative Natural Resource Solutions, LLC; Durgin & Crowell Lumber Co., Inc, and the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch.
Educational outcomes for participants included learning about the training, educational level, and job satisfaction of all those involved in the forest industry. Although the majority of the forestry professionals the educators encountered were men, we met women with doctorates involved in ecological research and wildlife conservation. Lessons focused on timber harvesting strategies, the role forests play in sequestering and storing carbon to combat climate change, the value of prescribed burns, and best management practices to maintain water quality while harvesting. We also had several guests in the field of forestry accompany us at different stages on the trip. Thanks to Malcolm Milne, Durgin & Crowell, Mike Simmons, UNH Thompson School of Applied Sciences, Wendy Weisiger, managing forester, The Society for the Protection of NH Forests, Chris Fife and Mark Rabon, Weyerhauser Co., and Craig Birch, Proctor Hill Forestry & Logging.
Author’s personal note: A big thanks to Cheri Birch, of the NH Timberland Owners Association who was the lead planner, educator Anjali Longan, who is best described as a spark plug keeping everyone energized and Susan Cox who was a member of the planning team and joined us on our Bartlett Experimental Forest Tour. I learned so much about current activities in NH forests on so many fronts. I have previously worked as the natural resource educator for the Maine Forest Service in the Department of Conservation and then upon moving to NH, served as the Director of Education for the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, associated with the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Most recently, I focused on teaching a forestry course as a faculty member at Plymouth State University for Environmental Science and Policy majors. I included coverage of all the ecosystem services provided by trees, including health benefits, in particular, from practices like Shinrin Yoku, adopted from the Japanese.
The NH Tree Tour was two years in the planning, delayed a year until everyone could be vaccinated, and the wait was worth it! The intent is to have the tour become an annual event and move around the state to help raise awareness about our state’s vital green economy and the array of jobs related to forests.
Photos below by Kristen K. Hand- one of the educator participants!
1.Forest Products Industries’ Economic Contributions: New Hampshire 2020