Today marks my last day as an intern at Starker. What a summer it has been.
I have learned so much from every project we have worked on.
This has been my first opportunity to gain an understanding of forestry beyond the textbooks, and I have to say that I love it. The list of projects we have accomplished is long! Starting with fire school/training, the stocking surveys, and brushing roads, we moved to timber cruising, selecting and painting trees for commercial thinning, spraying clearcuts with herbicides, and laying out a road. It has been a challenge and a learning experience to work at Starker this year.
My favorite memory is fire school and training. Getting to learn about fighting fire, fire training, and fire equipment was fascinating. I enjoyed networking with ODF personnel and other trainees there and getting to hear their wildfire fire stories. I also enjoyed running pumps and driving the fire engines.
The biggest challenge I had this year was selecting/painting trees for commercial thinning. It has been our last couple projects to walk all over two units and select trees to thin out.
In these thinnings, you have a bunch of goals in mind; reducing trees per acre for remaining trees to have space to grow, removing small and defective trees, but also keeping hood spacing without making clumps of remaining trees. This is physically difficult because you have to walk every bit of a stand and look from the base to the top of the tree to locate defects. You also must constantly visualize the gaps that will be created from trees you choose to remove. The pressure is also on because our choices on which trees to remove will determine what the stands will look like for the remainder of their life and impact the future value of the stand when it comes time to harvest.
Another key thing I enjoyed this year was getting to see so much land and really deepening my connection to the woods. Those days alone or with a partner walking through the woods, hearing it come alive with critters are days I will never forget. And I found some nice hunting spots!
After wrapping up this summer at starker, I head back to OSU to finish my final year in the Forest Engineering program. I feel so much more competent for my future with all I have learned this summer, and I am excited to see where my professional life takes me!
I want to say thank you to everyone at Starker Forests. I had an amazing summer that flew by. I enjoyed working for all the foresters and learning from all they have taught me. I really felt welcomed by the whole company and got treated like one of their own.
Thank you all!
– Griffin Puls