GLENFIELD — Seniors studying forestry and environmental conservation and students from the gas and diesel class at Jefferson-Lewis BOCES Howard G. Sackett Technical Center got the chance to experience sitting in the driver’s seat of cutting-edge logging equipment — all through the magic of computers.
Kimberly Brown, forestry and environmental conservation instructor, said she has been working to get simulators in the classroom for more than a year. Working with Sarah M. Boggess, director of communications and governmental affairs for ReEnergy Holdings LLC, and John R. Howe, ReEnergy’s north country wood procurement manager, the school finally got the simulators into the classroom.
The simulators were provided for the day by Nortrax, a forestry equipment dealer owned by John Deere.
The simulators are part of the students’ observance of National Bioenergy Day, a day to celebrate heat and power generated by wood biomass and agricultural waste.
Ms. Brown said this is the first time the simulators have been used in an educational facility. They are normally used at logging shows and for training. The simulators realistically depict what the students would experience in the field.
“This is actually the first time, for them and for us, that we have kind of partnered up to do something like this for the students,” Ms. Brown said. “These are not pieces of equipment that we can provide to the students, but they are equipment that are really becoming the trend in the timber harvesting field. So it is really important for the students to get to experience them in some way.”
While logging is just one aspect of the class, Ms. Brown said students should be aware of it as a career opportunity.
“The forest products industry is concerned about the aging of the workforce in the logging industry,” Ms. Boggess said. “We think that this could be a great opportunity to get younger people more interested in the field.”
The students were able to talk with Adam Whitford from the Nortrax dealership in Gouverneur, Stephen Bauder, the Northeast reconditioning manager for Nortrax and Justin Harmon, Northeast product field specialist for Waratah, a forestry attachment distributor .
One of the simulators emulates a forwarder, a wheeled machine with a large log bunk. The forwarder takes logs that have been harvested into the log bunk. It then takes the logs from the woods to the landing for scaling and pickup.
The students also used, virtually, a Waratah cutting head. This cuts the trees down, trims off the branches, cuts the log into sections and piles them.
As a further tie-in to National Bioenergy Day, the students also heard a presentation from a research specialist from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry about its willow biomass project. Biomass is the organic material used to generate bioenergy.
Ms. Brown said SUNY-ESF has some willow plantations in the region.
View the article at the Watertown Daily Times.