April 26, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

Kentucky forests provide many career opportunities. On April 21, high school juniors and seniors got hands-on instruction about many aspects of the wood products industry at the first Win With Wood workshop at the University of Kentucky's Wood Utilization Center in Quicksand, Ky.

UK's College of Agriculture teamed up with Hazard Community College to provide students with a unique learning experience, incorporating the primary and secondary forest products industry, as well as forestry events including wood, tree, tool and equipment identification, compass and pacing, timber cruising, and production planning. Students were also encouraged to enter mass-produced and custom woodworking projects for judging. Awards were presented in all competitions.

"In the wood identification contest, we have 23 species of native Kentucky hardwoods and some clues that go along with them and it's up to the students to identify the woods," said Grant Curry, a forest industry professional from Breathitt County. "Another contest is the cross-cut saw contest. It's an old technology but the kids really get into it."

Most of the students who attended are either in woodshop classes or agriculture classes at their high schools or have a general interest in the forestry industry. Before the competition an instructor gave some orientation about the competitions they would be a part of at the workshop. Don Barnes, coordinator of the forest and wood technology program at Hazard Community College knows how important forestry is to Kentucky. He worked with the UK Wood Utilization Center's superintendent Carroll Fackler to create the successful program. Barnes wants youth to understand the industry's importance and to discover job opportunities and study programs that will benefit the student and the Commonwealth.

"My goal is to increase awareness of high school students in Kentucky about opportunities in the forest and wood industries," Barnes said. "The industry is the fourth or the third largest industry in the state and most people don't realize that. I would like for all the students to have the opportunity to find out there are careers available with this type of program.

With the first successful Win With Wood program under their belts, the workshop coordinators are looking forward to expanding the events, increasing industry sponsorship, and increasing participation. But mostly, they want to make sure the workshops and competitions are providing a solid forest industry education to potential employees and forest enthusiasts.

"We need to promote the wood industry in eastern Kentucky, and I think this is a fine way to start," Curry added.


Aimee D. Heald 859-257-9764