December 2015 - What happened to October and November? It's a wonderful blur of events, from one end of our great state to the other. With the most successful year of Forestry Challenge events now in the books, I'd like to share a few of my favorite moments with you:

Shasta - At our mill tour at Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) in Anderson, the mill was shut down by the time we got there, but our tour guides turned on some of the key machines to demonstrate how they work. The technology that makes rectangular boards out of round logs, with minimal waste, is amazing!

Sequoia - Bark beetles have taken a huge toll on trees recently, especially ones in the South Sierra. We watched loggers at Mountain Home Demonstration state forest drop a beautiful sugar pine, which will at least provide lumber and no longer be a hazard at Sunset Point.

El Dorado - "Woot woot! All aboard!" was the call as the Leoni Meadows train left the station on a late night journey. It was a gorgeous night to view the meadow and gaze at the stars, and a great way to start the event.

Santa Cruz - Cold but sunny weather made for spectacular views as our busses wound their way to Soquel Demonstration State Forest. The staff at SDSF arranged a stellar fieldtrip, complete with a fully-staffed CalFire engine used for wildland fire fighting and medical emergencies.

San Bernardino -- I've heard it never rains in Southern California, but it does snow! Winter made an early appearance with a blanket of white on the ground for the entire event. Fieldwork was not hindered since it was a thin layer, but there was enough to make some sizable snowballs.

As Thanksgiving has passed and we now enter the last few weeks before the end of the year, I am thankful for the dedication of all of you to the Forestry Challenge, and am working to put 2015 in the archives and start anew on 2016.

Until Next Month,


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Welcome to the Forestry Challenge website. In 2015, 390 students and 75 teachers from 45 schools learned about responsible forest management at five different four-day events. The program would not be possible without our generous sponsors, as well as the 131 volunteers who donated approximately 1,300 hours.

Congratulations to the "200 Club", teams that scored over 200/250 points:

Rank Score School From (County) Event
1 228.8 Los Osos Rancho Cucamonga (SB) San Bernardino
2 226.3 Los Osos Rancho Cucamonga (SB) San Bernardino
3 222.0 Hawthorne Hawthorne (LA) San Bernardino
4 218.0 Los Osos Rancho Cucamonga (SB) San Bernardino
5 216.7 Bella Vista Fair Oaks (Sacramento) El Dorado
6 215.3 Foresthill Foresthill (Placer) El Dorado
7 214.3 Oxford Academy Cypress (Orange) Sequoia
8 213.0 Amador Sutter Creek (Amador) El Dorado
9 212.3 Ponderosa Shingle Springs (El Dorado) El Dorado
10 211.5 Arlington Riverside (Riverside) San Bernardino
11 208.7 Rosemont Sacramento (Sacramento) El Dorado
12 207.7 Enterprise Redding (Shasta) Shasta
12 207.7 CA Acad Math & Sci Carson (Los Angeles) Sequoia
13 206.3 Franklin Elk Grove (Sacramento) Santa Cruz

Photos from all events can be found on Facebook (search for - and "Like" - Forestry Challenge).

There will be five events with similar locations and dates in the fall of 2016. The 2016 dates and a 2015 annual report will be sent out after the New Year.

What is the Forestry Challenge?

The California Forestry Challenge is an academic competition for high school students in technical forestry and current forestry topics. Participants spend four days in the forest learning about the ecology and management of the forested landscapes that provide communities with water, recreational opportunities, and wood products.

Highlights include:

  • Field Training: Forestry professionals spend time with the students familiarizing them with common tree species, forestry tools, and the use of identification keys. This training serves as a review of the "learning objectives" and associated resources available on the website.
  • Field Test: Working as a 2 to 5 person team, students complete a comprehensive field test, which includes identifying and measuring trees, analyzing stand data, and making forest management decisions. The scores from the testing stations are combined, and become 60% of the team's final score.
  • Focus Topic Fieldtrip: Students are presented with a current focus topic and visit the forest to ask questions and collect data. They use the information they collect to weigh in on the topic, often influencing the decisions made about managing the forest in the future. 2014 focus topics included reforestation after a massive wildfire, forest management during a drought, and developing a Firesafe plan for one of the event host facilities.
  • Presentation: Guided by two consultation sessions with a Registered Professional Forester, students use all available information to put together a 15-minute presentation. A panel of three judges scores the presentation, which is worth 40% of the final event score. Top teams have presented to the CA Board of Forestry, the CA Licensed Foresters Association, and the Forest Landowners of CA.

If you would like to donate to help offset student and program expenses, use the PayPal button below.

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