We talked to Dr. Kim Simpson, Hartfield Science Department Chair, who gave us some great insight into the day!
Why did you choose to go on a field trip to observe logging operations and technology?
We went on this field trip because, over the past 5 years, the Hartfield Academy Dual Credit Biology class has developed a relationship with the leadership team at Pearl River Valley Water Supply District. Our students have specifically interacted with the Spillway Dam engineering crew and land manager who oversees the operations of the Ross Barnett Reservoir and the surrounding property. The chief forester reached out to me and invited our students to come get a "behind the scenes" look at logging operations. This rare opportunity was too good to pass up for several reasons.
First, it promised a chance for our learners to get an in-depth view of man's interaction with the environment. By getting "out in the field" our group was able to see how advancements in technology (specialized machines and drone surveillance) are being used to improve the health of wooded areas. This is important because regular thinning of dense tree - filled areas is essential for reducing disease caused by the spread of parasites (pine beetles). It also allows the overhead canopy to be opened-up so that trees reach their maximum growth potential. The enhanced quality of lumber products, along with the elevated efficiency of harvesting operations (decreasing time spent on the job and increasing product amount), thereby, leads to increased financial returns for the money that is spent on labor.
Second, by seeing large scale mechanical devices in action, this excursion supplemented Hartfield Academy's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) initiative by offering our robotics team a chance to examine the construct and capabilities of heavy utility equipment. The Science Bowl Team was able to consider the application of technology from a mathematical side as well. Our host explained calculations that go into the planning phase for the dimensions of the land, in addition to costs that are considered for acreage processing and profit distribution.
What was something the students learned that they found interesting?
It was incredibly interesting to hear about the sustainability that is associated with the logging industry. It makes sense that the foresters and loggers are experts in their profession, and know how the environment responds to man's intervention in nature. They explained that overgrowth at locations filled with a high density of trees is not good for any area where plant life is found. In addressing the need for thinning, every part of the harvested tree is used to develop marketable goods for the supply of items such as line (aka telephone) poles, furniture, or building products. Parts of the tree that remain after the prime cuts have been identified are ground down and used to replenish nutrients in the ground. Loggers are not "tree killers". These individuals perform an extremely important service in maintaining the world over which God has given us dominion.
What was the biggest takeaway from the day?
The take home message from our field trip experience, is that nature and man are meant to live in balance. Now as many place a high priority on the global climate change agenda, we need to remember that nature needs man, and man needs nature. The interdependence between us and and the rest of creation is like a seamlessly woven piece of fabric art, or a piece of enchanting music with well-timed tempos, unique melodies, and a tapestry of instrument blending. Just as we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), the roles of the sun, soil, insects, and trees come together with the efforts of man and technology to contribute to the well - being of our forest ecosystems, as well as the safety of our loggers and the strength of our economy.