Franklin Countys First News

For Foster Tech students, Logger’s Meet more than a championship

A.J. Wilbur of Mt. Blue competes in the axe throw in Houlton. (Photo courtesy of Rod Spiller)

HOULTON - On May 11 and 12, up and coming forestry folks from around the state of Maine gathered for the 41st annual Logger's Meet. The Foster Career and Technical Education Center's forestry program contains students from Mt. Blue, Spruce Mountain, Mt. Abram and Rangeley High Schools.

For the forestry departments across the state, the Loggers Meet is the holy grail of the lumber land. The meet showcases contestants ability to chop, saw and throw their way to victory. In addition to physical exerting events, knowledge particular to the forestry field is tested.

Rod Spiller and Chris Maxim teach students not only forestry for future job talents of the trade, but put an emphasis on work ethic and safety while doing so.

"We focus on what needs to be known for these students in the work place," Spiller said. "The knowledge of forestry like this can go a long way. Also, incorporating a family environment is important, but safety remains our biggest concern."

Chris Maxim was in the program 30 years ago and recalls his Logger Meet fondly.

Left to right is Darren Curtis (MB), Ben Rackliff (Spruce), Rod Spiller (instructor) and Zac Clark (Rangeley) pose for a moment between the action at the Loggers Meet. (Photo courtesy of Rod Spiller)

"It's the closest thing to a Championship in this type of program," Maxim explains. "It's great because it challenges our students in particular skills they'll need later in jobs. Not just how to use a saw, but when and where."

Behind Foster Tech forestry students' well earned hardware are left to right: Denesha Begin, Allie Emery, Courtney Grundy, Darren Curtis, Ben Rackliff, Bobby Ladd, AJ Wilbur and Zac Clark.

What the instructors were most proud of, was their team winning the Sportsmanship Award. Many of the same sportsmanship qualities, Spiller and Maxim believe, are paramount in prepping them for the real world workplace. The family friendly focus Spiller discussed wasn't lost on forestry phenoms Denesha Begin of Mt. Abram, or teammate Allie Emery who attends Mt. Blue. Begin and Emery won first prize in the Cookie Cut event at the Loggers Meet.

"Those two gals won the Cookie Cut easily," Maxim beamed. "Their control and precision were on point."

For both queens of the cut, their jubilation came from learning the trade, and less the result.

Denesha Begin saws away during Foster Tech's community service clearing at the Lance Cpl. Scott Paul Memorial Veterans Park in Strong.

"We're the new generation to get to fix what's broken," Begin said. "The greatest thing was being able to build a family bond with others in the program and the event."

"I was proud considering we were two of the three girls there." Emery added. "Anyone interested in this field, I'd suggest to just do it. Don't be scared, they really shape the class to you."

The forestry program is not only establishing skills for future jobs, they're doing it in a way to help the community. Cutting through the heat of a 90-degree day last week, the students and instructors cleared dead trees and brush at the Lance Cpl. Scott Paul Memorial Veterans Park in Strong. Prettying it up for the summer season.

Allie Emery works on chainsawing a fallen tree. Instructors Maxim and Spiller look on with fellow student Denesha Begin at the Lance Cpl. Scott Paul Memorial Veterans Park.

"It's hard to get volunteers these days," Spiller added. "The students are required to have 350 hours related to the curriculum, so we thought we might as well improve local areas where we can."

Despite the recent headlines, both instructors remain optimistic about the state of forestry jobs in Maine.

"You tend to only hear the sad stories, like mills closing," Maxim explained. "you never hear the good stuff where more jobs are becoming available and local companies are continuing to make advancements in the field."

The forestry department at Foster Tech continues to adapt their class work to the ever-changing forestry field for any interested.

"To the kids out there," Spiller concluded, "come check out the program for a day and see if it's right for you."

Foster Tech Logger Meet results:
Pulp throw for accuracy- AJ Wilbur, Ben Rackliff, Darren Curtis, Zac Clark: 1st place
Pulp throw for distance- Ben Rackliff, Robert Ladd, AJ Wilbur: 1st place
Cookie Cut- Allie Emery, Denesha Begin: 1st place
Precision Bucking- Darren Curtis: 2nd place
Log Roll- Darren Curtis, Ben Rackliff, AJ Wilbur, Robert Ladd: 2nd place
Cookie Stack - Zac Clark: 4th place
Cross Cut Relay - Ben Rackliff, AJ Wilbur, Courtney Grundy, Allie Emery: 4th place
Tree Identification - Allie Emery, Ben Rackliff: 2nd place
Log Scaling - Denesha Begin, Allie Emery: 2nd place
Chainsaw Troubleshooting- Zac Clark, AJ Wilbur: 3rd place
Game of Logging-individual- AJ Wilbur: 4th place
Logging-team- Robert Ladd (tree felling), Courtney Grundy (bore station), Denesha Begin (spring pole): 3rd place
Axe Throw- Ben Rackliff, AJ Wilbur, Robert Ladd: 3rd place
Dot Split- Courtney Grundy, Darren Curtis: 4th place
Loader Competition- Zac Clark, Robert Ladd: 4th place
Skidder Competition- AJ Wilbur, Robert Ladd: 3rd place

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1 Responses »

  1. Great Job Mt. Blue, you make the community proud.