Training for the future

The simulator has prepared you for the task ahead, yet sweat starts to drip from your brow, and the controls feel stiffer than they should. The first lever is pulled harmoniously. The second seems to stutter before falling into place. The last one brings a hard feeling to your gut, and you look out to the landscape full of logs in front of you. You have successfully replicated the simulator and moved around your first tree.

Since the 1980s, The Student Logging Training Program (SLTP) has been a part of the College of Forestry, according to Jeff Wimer, a senior instructor with the Oregon State University College of Forestry. The program allows students to experience real-world logging systems up close.

Connecting with the community and getting into the field is forest engineering student Dean Maben’s favorite part of being a member of the SLTP crew.

“I love getting the chance to get into the field and apply the things I’ve learned in the classroom,” Maben says. “It enhances my education as I am able to bridge the connection between the real world and what I am taught in class.”

Maben credits the SLTP with molding him into the person he is today.

“I’ve developed relationships I’ll have for my entire life,” he says “It’s taught me to be professional and to never stop learning.”

Maben says lifelong learning is something Wimer preaches to the crew, as he educates the next generation of professional foresters who will leave Oregon State and lead the industry.

“We have the ability to slow everything down and take the time to better teach how the various systems work. The technology we utilize is real world,” Wimer says. “We are fortunate that various machine manufacturers donate to us, on an annual basis, brand new equipment. On the crew, we continue to explore the rapidly changing technology of our industry.”

Equipment in use includes a Koller 501 Yarder, Link Belt loader and a John Deere skidder.

The SLTP also provides students the chance to participate in unique outreach experiences. In 2018, the student logging crew participated in the Pacific Logging Congress’ (PLC) Live In-Woods Show. The event invited the public to participate by viewing the latest forest industry technology in the woods.

“The show gave SLTP students a chance to interact with audiences they might now work with on a daily basis,” says Wimer, who also serves as president of the PLC. “It provided them the unique opportunity to educate other students, teachers, government representatives, loggers and the general public on the positive and sustainable methods used in the forest industry today.”

The SLTP helps Oregon State meet its land grant mission and reaches to a variety of audiences for education and training purposes.

“The program is quite unique in that there are very few universities that have such a program,” Wimer says. “The students who go through the program tend to have a leg up with their class work. Their field experience with the program gives them a frame of reference and hands on experience which allows them to excel in many of their classes.”

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