STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Each spring, forestry schools put forth their strongest lumberjacks and most knowledgeable foresters for the Southern Forestry Conclave. A group of students from Mississippi State University left last week for the competition.
The team of 13 spent their spring break at Virginia Tech at the Southern Forestry Conclave. It’s an annual contest of forestry skills combining brains and brawn.
“There’s axe throw, where you stand 15 feet away and throw an axe at the target. We also have knife throw which is the same thing. There’s cross cut, men’s, women’s and Jack and Jill. That’s the long 10 foot saw that we’re pulling back and forth. There’s also pole climbing, which is a 20 foot pole that you climb straight up. And then there’s archery, and log birling, which is in the water. You have two people standing on a log, trying to knock the other one off. We also have some technical events like compass and pacing, diameter estimation, and volume estimation,” said Junior Zach Senneff.
This year MSU took 6th place out of 15 universities. They practice every weekend leading up to Conclave.
“It’s really exciting. You have all these different schools there, and meet lots of new people. Everyone’s really friendly, and if you go back the next year, you get to see the same people and see how everyone improves,” said student Andrew Shaman.
“My event is pole climbing. Basically you can’t use any equipment. It’s bare hands and your choice of shoes, but no spikes, and you have to climb the pole as fast as possible. You try to balance your weight with the pole. You have your feet flat against the pole and your hands wrapped around the back like a bear cub. And you’re trying to mount your weight between your arms and your legs to work your way up. It’s scary going up at first, and then the question is how do you get back down once you’re up there,” Shaman said.
Conclave shows a fun, different side to forestry. It’s a link between the past and the present.
“A lot of Conclave is how forestry practices used to be done. With cross cut, that’s how trees were cut down. Obviously technology today has improved but it’s a fun way to get out there and do things,” Senneff said.
MSU will host the Southern Forestry Conclave in 2015.
Axe throw- Zach Pardue, 2nd
Pole climbing- Andrew Shaman, 5th
Pole felling- Jason Page, 4th
Diameter estimation- Garrett Dismukes, 2nd
Wildlife identification- Justin Owens, 4th