Iowa State University Forestry Club Hosts Cutting Edge Competition

by Summer Bontrager, CALS Communications Services

Iowa State University placed third in the 65th Midwestern Foresters’ Conclave and Stihl Timbersports Competition held earlier this month at Saylorville Lake, Prairie Flower Recreation Area. Iowa State University Forestry Club hosted the event.

The Forestry club placed third out of 13 teams participating. Olivia Rauen, senior in forestry from Bankston, placed first in the women’s ax throw competition. Competitors throw an ax at a mounted target with the goal of hitting the bulls eye. Forestry freshmen Ben Wilson, from Johnston, and Abby Zabrodsky, from Brookfield, Illinois; placed first in the Jack and Jill log roll, which is a timed event where contestants roll a log with polls 80 feet .

Southern Illinois University – Carbondale placed first and University of Wisconsin – Steven Point placed second.

During the year, the Forestry Club prepares for the annual Midwestern Forester's Conclave, which showcases traditional forestry practices.

Nathaniel Thompson, senior in forestry from Woodbine, is the vice president of the Forestry Club. He sat down and answered some questions about the event and the club.

Tell me about the ISU Forestry Club and Student Chapter of Society of American Foresters?
The Forestry Club has around 40 members and strives to provide educational opportunities, networking and hands-on experience to help members get a head start in their careers. This past academic year we hosted 17 guest speakers ranging from a New Zealand plantation forester to a former club member with the U.S. Forest Service.
What’s the Forestry Club known for?
The club is known for its annual Christmas tree sale every December at Reiman Gardens. Many of the trees are grown on the club’s Christmas tree plantation north of Ames. The club also has its own Timbersports team that practices year-round and attends the conclave competition every spring, plus local competitions.
What’s the Midwestern Forester's Conclave all about?
One of Conclave’s goals is to preserve traditional forestry methods by including events like crosscut sawing, ax throwing and compass and map orienteering. Conclave also provides a chance for students to meet future co-workers in the natural resource and forestry fields.
Who participated in this year’s event?
This year there were more than 200 competitors from 13 different schools and seven states. The Iowa Chapter of Society of American Foresters judged the 25 events at the competition. This provided opportunities for students to network with professionals in the field. The society is the largest educational and scientific source for foresters and is used to accredit forestry programs nationwide.
How did you prepare for the competition?
We had two practices each week during the year for about three hours each time.
Why was ISU chosen to host this year’s conclave?
The competition is moved among schools on a rotational basis. Iowa State hosted in 2007 and in 1997.
What was the STIHL Collegiate Competition at the conclave?
It is kind of its own event within the conclave competition. The STIHL competition is the “best of the best” from each team. Each team is allowed one person to compete in hot saw, single buck, underhand chop and standing block competition. STIHL U.S.A sponsors this event. The company sets up cameras, banners and works with ESPN to air the event. The winner moves on to the national collegiate event in July. The Iowa State STIHL competitor this year was Justin Dunn, a senior in forestry from Mount Pleasant, and he placed fourth.