Society of American Foresters

Northwest Regions

Vernonia Joins Forestry Ed Trend

Vernonia joins forestry ed trend

Why would a small Oregon town start a high school forestry class?

Ask the leaders of the 600-student Vernonia School District in the northwest Coast Range. They've not only launched the class, but made it part of a comprehensive K-12 natural resources curriculum that focuses on forestry.

The curriculum is aimed at improving student achievement. It's also a sign of a growing trend for schools to involve their communities in education, said Julie Woodward, OFRI forest education program manager and OSAF Capitol Chapter member.

"Our rural communities are realizing that if they want to thrive, they must find a way for students to stay in the area after their education is complete, and for many, that means jobs in the forest sector.

Tillamook, Elkton, and Fossil all have recently introduced a natural resources focus to their K-12 studies, Woodward adds.

In Vernonia, the district's natural resources program is working with local business, government, and higher-education partners. Local members of the forest sector have also stepped up, providing forestland for outdoor classroom sites.

OFRI has supported the effort, too, sponsoring a September workshop that drew 16 high school forestry educators from around the state to collaborate and share their ideas with Vernonia teachers.

"We’re interested in helping teachers bring forestry into their classrooms, especially at the high school level, where many students are beginning to consider career options," Woodward said.

Oregon SAF has supported the Vernonia forestry curriculum through grants distributed from the Oregon Natural Resource Education – OSAF Sub-fund. This is one great example of how OSAF donations supported the advancement of forestry education in Oregon. To learn more about the ONREF-OSAF sub fund click here.

The Oregon Legislature created the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) in 1991 to improve public understanding of the state’s forest resources and to encourage environmentally sound forest management through training and other educational programs for forest landowners. OFRI is funded by a dedicated harvest tax on forest products producers. To learn about OFRI’s mission and programs click here.