Blue Ridge Mountains - Fall Forestry Field Trip

Fall Forestry Field Trip

This October break, 16 MF and MFS students traveled down to the Southern Appalachians for a fall forestry tour that culminated in a two-day MF Alumni Convocation at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC. It was a whirlwind of a tour spanning four days, planned by two MF teaching fellows in collaboration with Mike Ferrucci, our forest operations professor. Before the trip, the group met to discuss what to expect on the tour, and the trip leaders shared reading material to provide context for the operations we would see throughout the four days.

We flew into Atlanta and hit the ground running with a visit to a TIMO-managed pine plantation in northern Georgia. We drove further north that day to Hot Springs, NC where the whole group stayed in a rental house (We stopped at grocery shop on the way. Trip requisites? Granola bars, taco fixings, and beer). During the next two days, we visited the U.S. Forest Service Bent Creek Experimental Forest, the Cradle of Forestry, and several harvest sites accompanied by foresters from EcoForesters, a nonprofit forestry consulting and education organization founded by FES alumnus Rob Lamb. Many of our visits had an alumni connection and it was very cool to connect with alumni from around the southeast who still have strong connections with the FES community.

Logging demonstration at Warren Wilson

Logging demonstration at Warren Wilson

On Friday and Saturday, we spent time at Warren Wilson College, a work college in Asheville with a fantastic program in forestry and the ecological sciences. Dave Ellum, the head of the forestry program there, received his MF and PhD from FES and led us through a tour of campus forestry operations, including demonstrations of timber sports, horse-drawn logging, milling, and mushroom cultivation. Each demonstration was led by Warren Wilson’s forestry crew, a truly impressive band of undergraduates whose courses of study range from the environmental sciences to ceramics. We were joined by FES alumni from around the southeast during our visit, which resulted in a day of learning and networking, capped off with a lively evening of bluegrass and delicious food.

These kind of trips bring out the best of the MF program: students bond during long drives and shared meals, explore how forestry practices take shape outside of the classroom, and connect with alumni and forest industry leaders in a new region. I’d highly recommend going on at least one of these trips as a student at FES.