forestryBy Alesha Dodd

What is forestry? Forestry is where you learn about trees; such as their leaves, the diseases that the tree can get, and the beetles that may cause some of those diseases. There is also the Biltmore stick, pacing, and compass. You measure trees with a Biltmore stick to determine the DBH (Diameter Breast Height); then you pace 66 feet away from the tree to determine how many 16 foot logs you can get out of it.

You can use a compass and pacing to find your way across country where there may not be any paths or roads to follow. But the juniors do the pacing and the high schoolers such as my team have to do the wood identification.

We learned about some of the trees like the Virginia pine, Flowering Dogwood, River Birch, American Elm, and my personal favorite is the Yellow-Poplar which is also Tennessee’s state tree (it looks like a cat’s head; that’s why it’s my favorite). There are also diseases like Hypoxylon canker, Nectria canker, dogwood anthracnose, needle casts, and white trunk rot of birch (weird name right?).

Some of the names of the insects are: smaller European elm bark beetle, Asian long-horned beetle, fall webworm, Nantucket pine tip moth, and gypsy moth (my favorite). It’s a lot to take in but it can be fun if you learn how to do it and enjoy learning about it. But that’s not even the half of it; there are 116 things to remember because you don’t know what they’ll give you at the competition. So you try to remember it all but that’s only the identification part – it doesn’t include the pacing, compass and Biltmore stick, and if you win region and go to state you have to learn how to do the evaluation table. It is a lot to learn.

Recently my 4-H agent left our 4-H group and we don’t have a real agent yet, but one of the homeschool moms volunteered to be our agent until we get another one. My team and I recently won region and we’re going to state. We came in first place out of all of the teams and there were only five teams that could go to state, so that is a very big accomplishment, even though one of the other counties’ 4-H agents is upset that a homeschool mom (who’s not experienced in any 4-H activites) got us to first place!

There’s a lot to 4-H but I think that my favorite thing in 4-H is forestry, and it’s very good for a college application since as a homeschooler in high school that’s all I think about. I’m super excited to have the privilege to go to state.

Update on Sheltering Tree Ranch:

The kids just got out of fall break and are super excited to be back at school (I think I’m even more excited than them!). They are having fun day this week and that’s where you can eat and play games and paint horses all day long. It is a lot of fun but sadly it’s on the day of my competition of forestry. But I pray that the day goes well for everyone!

Well, I hope everyone is having a great fall. Thank you. ~Alesha Dodd

Alesha Dodd, 14, has been homeschooled her whole life.

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