A Community College on the Cutting Edge of Education: A new classroom for a new generation of foresters.

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Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, Virginia, allows students to mill wood with an LT300 industrial sawmill by Wood-Mizer Industrial.

Most colleges have high tech equipment. Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, Virginia, allows students to mill wood with an LT300 industrial sawmill by Wood-Mizer Industrial. The big green machine is central to the Forestry Management Technology program, accredited through the Society of American Foresters.
There are not many Associate Degree level Forestry programs at U.S. colleges and Dabney is the only one in Virginia. Forest measurement, sawmilling, logging and silviculture (the care and cultivation of forest trees) are all parts of the program. High school algebra and geometry are required to enter DSLCC’s forestry technology program, but the majority of the program is made up of hands-on learning. Jason Reynolds, a student currently in the program describes his experience with the LT 300 as follows “using the Wood-Mizer sawmill to see the different boards produced from a log helps me to better understand the different hardwood lumber grades taught during our sawmilling class.”
“Because of Wood-Mizers thin kirf technology, it has helped me to be able to look at a log and maximize output while minimizing waste.” — Justin Stauder
All the forestry students use the LT300during their second year as part of a 15-week sawmilling course. The machine is from Wood-Mizer’s AWMV Industrial line and is a premier sawmill for commercial operations, giving DSLCC students a head start when they enter the labor force. The LT300’s features that make it a commercial success are also advantageous in an instructional setting. All operations are controlled from a stand-alone operator’s station. From there, the sawyer can see everything as he or she uses joysticks and a setworks that are easy to use, yet allow sophisticated, precise cutting. For the school, the LT300’s operating station was customized with three seats: a sawyer seat, the middle seat for the instructor, and the third seat for a student observer. The college also uses Wood-Mizer thin kerf blades, the Wood-Mizer ReSharp option, a Wood-Mizer Industrial E430 edger. The LT300 allows students to experience the best commercial sawmilling procedures, such as precision setup and cutting which produce 40 percent more lumber than circle saws.
Most importantly, students graduate from DSLCC’s Forest Management program ready to go to work in industry. Another recent graduate, Grayson Duke, says, “Using the sawmill has helped me in estimating the board feet of trees while cruising timber for Gasburg Land and Timber (a company in Gasburg, Virginia).
It has also enabled me to get a better feel for how the trees are going to be utilized once they arrive at the mill.” Duke earned an Associate of Applied Science degree and went to work immediately in Virginia’s lumber industry. Virginia’s rich stands of maple, hickory, white and red oak and dozens of other hardwood varieties cover about 16 million acres of the state’s rolling, mountainous terrain. Hardwoods contribute significantly to Virginia’s economy, and the forestry industry employs a healthy percentage of the 80,000 persons working in Virginia forests, farms and fisheries. Some DSLCC graduates take the next step of earning lumber grading certificates at a commercial lumber school in Memphis, Tennessee.
“Through Wood-Mizer’s cutting edge technology and a state of the art training facility, my knowledge of sawmilling has been tremendously increased.” — Clint White
Forest Management Technology is one of nearly 40 programs offered at the college. Transfer programs get students started toward Bachelor degrees from four-year colleges and universities, but most forestry graduates go directly into a workplace. In the case of DSLCC’s forestry students, the “office” may be a U.S. forest or a Virginia state forest, where they will combine conservation with careful management of hardwood and pines as a commercial crop. The summer between the first and second year is filled with a cooperative internship involving 225 hours of paid work in a related forestry that provides a valuable experience towards their long-term profession.
The LT300 replaced a 01C Frick manual sawmill. Staff members agree that the old mill was primitive, and that with the new technology offered by the LT300 and a Wood-Mizer edger, they are giving students a better understanding of modern sawmilling practices and opening up a promising future for students interested in forestry.
For more information on Wood-Mizer’s educational discount, please call Mike Hanlon at 800.553.0182.
Thanks to Joe Thacker and Brian Keiling of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College for their input and help with this article.
“Editor’s note: The preceding was paid advertorial by Wood-Mizer.”