Oregon Logging Conference 2022

Loggers from across the Northwest and parts beyond recently traveled to the Oregon Logging Conference (OLC) here for the first show since 2020 and the 2021 virtual event. The show enjoyed great crowds and weather and lots of the latest in logging equipment and technology.

A major theme and focus of the OLC and its supporters is finding and developing new employees for all segments of the industry, from in-woods personnel and equipment operators to diesel technology, wild land firefighting and more. State educators also have a big role to play, according to OLC keynote speaker Blake Manley, a former logger and forestry and natural resources teacher at Sweet Home High School—and he’s also Chair of the Oregon Natural Resources Educators Assn. and a relentless forestry career promoter.

One thing Oregon does have going for it is a state-approved high school forestry curriculum that’s currently being offered by 35 school systems in the state. Manley told hundreds of loggers assembled for the keynote that the four legs of support for developing high school forestry interest are: 1—having a state-approved curriculum; 2—having administrative support at the school; 3—finding the right teacher (and it’s not always the guy with the flannel shirts); and 4—building local and industry support for the program.

Manley noted all communities are different and may choose to emphasize various segments of forestry, “But you all have the potential to have these programs in your schools,” he emphasized. “If you want to know how, find me.”

Of course, everyone loves to prop the little kids in an operator’s cab and take a photo, but the OLC has refined their show’s outreach to focus primarily on high-school aged students who are soon to be making decisions on work and career choices. More than 900 local and regional high schoolers were registered to visit the OLC, which included presentations tailored to school groups about job opportunities. Students were able to talk with forest industry professionals and company reps to get an idea of future jobs.

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