September 2015 - Well, things are hopping here at "Forestry Challenge Central". Teachers, thank you for giving me accurate headcounts. Right now my best guess is that 445 students will participate this year, up from 300 last year! It has been great that so many of you have asked if you can bring more students than originally planned, because interest is so high.

I am in the process of updating the Learning Resources pages of the website, so you have all of the study materials you need. If you would like to be matched up with a forester who can visit your classroom, please let me know.

As a follow-up to my last update, I did successfully complete a 130 mile backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail in July. One of the best things that happened on the trip was running into 4 hikers from Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs, one of whom, Aaron Bezdek, went to the 2014 Shasta Forestry Challenge!

Here is a photo of us on top of 11,955 foot Muir Pass. Yes, that's a kilt he's wearing. Many long-distance hikers prefer skirts or kilts over pants.

Now that I'm off the trail, and my head is "back in the game", it's time to get the event season started. I can't wait to see old friends and meet new ones at this year's Forestry Challenge.

Until Next Month,


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Welcome to the California Forestry Challenge website. The "Events" pages are now up to date for the 2015 event season, and the "Learning Resources" pages are in the process of being updated.


What is the Forestry Challenge?

The California Forestry Challenge is an academic competition for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry topics. Participants spend four days in the forest learning about the ecology and management of the forested landscapes that provide communities with water, recreational opportunities, and wood products.

Highlights include:

  • Field Training: Forestry professionals spend time with the students familiarizing them with common tree species, forestry tools, and the use of identification keys. This training serves as a review of the "learning objectives" and associated resources available on the website.
  • Field Test: Working as a 2 to 5 person team, students complete a comprehensive field test, which includes identifying and measuring trees, analyzing stand data, and making forest management decisions. The scores from the testing stations are combined, and become 60% of the team's final score.
  • Focus Topic Fieldtrip: Students are presented with a current focus topic and visit the forest to ask questions and collect data. They use the information they collect to weigh in on the topic, often influencing the decisions made about managing the forest in the future. 2014 focus topics included reforestation after a massive wildfire, forest management during a drought, and developing a Firesafe plan for one of the event host facilities.
  • Presentation: Guided by two consultation sessions with a Registered Professional Forester, students use all available information to put together a 15-minute presentation. A panel of three judges scores the presentation, which is worth 40% of the final event score. Top teams have presented to the CA Board of Forestry, the CA Licensed Foresters Association, and the Forest Landowners of CA.

If you would like to donate to help offset student and program expenses, use the PayPal button below.

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