Working as an intern here at Starker for the last 7 months has taught me quite a lot, both about myself and what it’s like to work in the world of forestry. I feel incredibly grateful for the hard work and dedication from Lys, Fred and everyone else at Starker who gave their time and knowledge to teach us all what they know.
Because my experience here started a earlier than the rest of the interns, I got to learn a few more things. This ranged from finding my way around the many, many acres of Starker’s forests, to the importance of simple observation, to understanding what it’s like to work alone for many hours and many days. When I first began working at Starker, my job was to go to all of the stands that were between 1-5 years old and observe whether or not there was girdling damage to the young trees from mice. This project took me nearly a month and a half, but I got to visit almost every tree farm and see just how important topography (amongst other things) is to the successful growth of trees. Needless to say, after a month and a half of doing damage surveys every day, I got quite good at finding mouse damage on young trees.
Shortly after I finished this project, I was moved to completing our 10-year-old stand surveys. This was one of the more challenging projects for me. Not because of difficulty in the actual surveying and data collection, but instead in learning how to navigate such densely packed stands. See, 10- year-old stands are often right when the crown is closing, so it is rare to see more than a few trees in front of you from all of the branches blocking the view. Many of these stands also have large patches of blackberry that are not always avoidable to get to the other side. Working alone this can be especially frustrating, but I got through it! And so part of me is happy I completed this project, because I feel I proved something to myself by doing so.
Then came the post-thinned cruises! Probably one of my favorite parts of this summer. After Lys showed me the ropes on cruising older trees, I got to cruise all by myself. This also came with many beautiful, forested views, and many steep slopes. I even got to go on a few prospect purchases with Fred and Lys to help them collect data on potential new ownerships.
After a brief side project of tree marking for an old progeny site, I did a few more post-thinned cruises before the rest of the interns showed up. That’s when the real internship started.
In the first week, we were taken on a tour around Starker’s land to see all of the different stages of management in forestry, from site prep for planting, all the way to final harvest. After that we got some training in power tools and saw usage, which we immediately used for brushing forest roads that very much needed it.
Then fire school started! We learned all about wildland firefighting, chain of command, topography and weather importance, and the nitty gritty of actually digging a fire line. I’m thankful to be fire trained and even happier that I have not had to use it due to any Starker fires.
After fire training, we all learned about stocking surveys and how to do them. We also learned about their importance and why we spend so much time and energy to make sure the young trees do well in the first 5 years.
Then came cruising lessons for the rest of the crew. We cruised everything from 20-year stands, to 30, 40, and even some harvestable aged stands!
Travis trained us all on backpack spraying herbicide and the importance of site prep and maintenance on young stands.
To finish off the summer, we’ve been marking stands to be thinned, and are actively making decisions about the future of the very stands we are working in. Many interns have already left, and now it is just myself and one other for this last week.
Again, I’m very thankful to the Starker crew for giving us all the opportunity to really see what it’s like to work in forestry. I’m excited about the new experience they have given me, and I can’t wait to take it further into my career. Thank you!
– Nic Haye