Guild Student Members Teach Forestry at Camp O’Rear

Written by Lilly Roehrig, University of Alabama

As we followed a school bus into the valley of Camp O’Rear, I admired the familiar presence of the mixed woods forest. I had been here before to gather data on Eastern Hemlock stands, but I was here for an entirely different reason this time.

Today, schools from across Walker and Tuscaloosa counties were gathering at the camp to learn about forest ecology and measurements from members of the University of Alabama Forest Dynamics Lab. Seated in the hillside amphitheater, the students were given a crash course in forest ecology by our lab director and Guild student chapter advisor, Dr. Hart. Though many students appeared fully invested in his words, several seemed restless as well, and I really couldn’t blame them. I was eager to get into the forest too!

University of Alabama Guild Student Chapter logoAfter the lecture, we led the high school students to a stand populated with White Oaks, a fact that one student was quick to point out. While in the forest, we taught them how to establish a fixed radius plot using a hypsometer, measure DBH with a logger’s tape, measure height with a clinometer, and measure tree age with an increment borer. The students seemed particularly interested in the core that the borer produced, many of them standing alongside me to help count the rings. It was thrilling to pass on the skills I had been practicing throughout the semester in my forestry measurements class, as it felt like I had been in their position not long ago.

Additionally, being able to meet and discuss future plans with a wide variety of students, some of whom were interested in forestry, was amazing. By the end of our time together I had to leave the students with a bittersweet goodbye, but they left me with a reinvigorated hope for the future of the natural resources field.

Editor’s note: thank you to our University of Alabama Guild Student Chapter for your efforts. It’s worth noting that the feeling of hope these high school students provided you, is the same hope Guild student members inspire in our professional members and others in this community who are later in their careers. Supporting tomorrow’s responsible forest stewards is a tremendous gift to everyone!

You may also be interested in reading “The Call of the Cahaba,” which shares Lilly’s reflections from a spring 2024 University of Alabama Student Chapter event coordinated by Dakota Wagner, the Guild’s Southeast Program Manger.