October 22, 2009

Win With Wood 2009
Win With Wood 2009

Chase Deaton is the president of his FFA chapter at Breathitt County High School, and like most people in eastern Kentucky, he's very aware of the forests surrounding him. He believes understanding as much as he can about the forest and wood industry will give him a leg up in his future career. That's a big reason why he takes the Win With Wood competition so seriously.

"In east Kentucky, all we have is hills, trees and forests," he said. "There are limited job opportunities here, and knowing as much as I can about these trees will probably help me a lot."

Now in its ninth year, Win With Wood is a competition the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture offers each year at the Robinson Center for Appalachian Resource Sustainability in Quicksand. High school students compete in eight individually scored areas including compass and pacing, forestry equipment identification, invasive plant identification, soil judging, tree identification, tree measurement, wood identification and woodworking tool identification.

"The biggest commodity in Kentucky is our forests," said Louise Moore, UK Cooperative Extension District 2 director. "Anytime we can teach our youth how important the forests are, it helps secure the future of our resources."

Carroll Fackler, forestry research specialist at the Robinson Center and coordinator of Win With Wood, said the event not only offers healthy competition for students interested in forestry, agriculture and woodworking, but the preparation curriculum high school teachers receive prior to the event meets educational standards for math and science education.

"We're trying to get these students acquainted with forestry and its associated industries, terminology, tools and people," Fackler said. "We've got great support from the Kentucky Division of Forestry, our Cooperative Extension agents, industry representatives and high school agriculture teachers."

Stephen Richardson teaches agriculture at Knott County High School, and he incorporates Win With Wood learning materials in his classroom before and after the competition.

"We've spent the previous nine weeks studying units on compassing, forestry tools and wood identification," he said. "This is really the culmination of what we've been emphasizing in the classroom; it's engrained in the curriculum. A lot of our students are very interested in natural resources, and our goal is to expose them to as many opportunities as possible so they can make informed career choices."

Chase Deaton's agriculture teacher Sherrie Stewart is supportive of Win With Wood as well.

"It offers a very practical application," she said. "These are skills the students would use in the real world in real life. We plan for this every year."

Deaton said he is thinking of pursuing a career in civil engineering and perhaps bringing his knowledge back to the forest industry in eastern Kentucky.

The overall winner of the Win With Wood Competition this year was Austin Howard of Magoffin County. Howard, a 4-H club member, received a $500 scholarship to UK.

"The scholarship is endowed by the wood industry," Fackler said. "It's a great recruiting tool to get students on their way to college at UK."

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