Teaching young foresters in forestry country

Ashley BachBLOG

Training the next generation should always be a priority for the forestry industry. But it’s even more heartening to see a robust forestry education program in the heart of Washington’s timber country, like Grays Harbor County. According to Grays Harbor Talk, Grays Harbor College is offering a new Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Forest Resources Management (BAS-FRM).

Founded in the booms days of early logging and steeped in the history of forestry, the College offers a connection with the industry that has staff and students excited for the new degree. Students are enrolling from Grays Harbor County and beyond, proving the interest in the industry is there. GHC has long offered an Associate degree in the Natural Resources field, but with an addition of the BAS-FRM, the small cohort of students has added new interest to the region.

Local employers in the industry say they need well-trained foresters and the addition of the BAS-FRM aims to fill that need. Logging companies, local tribes and the Forest Service are providing opportunities for students. In addition, the Department of Natural Resources offices in Forks and Olympia are working with GHC on field trips onto those lands.

Alex Bastos recently joined the GHC faculty as the primary instructor in the new BAS-FRM program. Talented and inspiring, his dedication to forests is apparent as he talks about the program. He has studied forests of the Amazon and in Japan and is now sharing his expertise as an internationally educated forester, teaching GHC students in the shadow of the renowned Olympic Rain Forest.

According to a story last year in the Aberdeen Daily World, the new Grays Harbor forestry bachelor’s degree program will provide scholarships funded by the National Science Foundation.

The partnering colleges just received a $998,773 scholarship grant from the National Science Foundation that will provide a minimum of 92 scholarships from now until 2020 for student’s enrolled full time in the program who meet academic requirements and demonstrate financial need.

The new forestry program in Grays Harbor County reflects recent changes in the industry.

The skills students will gain in the BAS-FRM program are far reaching and are inclusive of changes happening in the industry. Educating students on issues like land management, conflict resolution, restoration and leadership, the College will help graduates obtain jobs and advance within the new image of forestry.

…The modern forester will blend technology with precision in forestry practices, something the GHC program will address. The BAS-FRM program encourages research and scientific analysis through field experiences with members of the industry and fosters critical thinking and skills gained in small classes.