54th annual Southern Forestry Conclave

Not only did the 54th annual Southern Forestry Conclave come back to its roots – the University of Georgia – but the UGA Forestry Club took some top honors in the 2011 competition.

The Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources held the conclave at Whitehall Forest, hosting 14 other colleges during the three-day competition. It began with technical events and ended with the physical contests that have made the annual conclave such a popular battle among college athletes. And when it was over, UGA stood victorious, placing third overall behind perennial winners Arkansas and S.F. Austin.

Individual UGA team members who placed included:

* Second, wildlife identification: Tyler English and Gresham Cash
* Second, bowsaw: Matt Tsiklistas
* Second, women’s bowsaw: Laura Eidson
* Second, men’s crosscut: Matt Tsiklistas and Daniel Atkins
* Second, knife throw: Jason Bland
* Third, log rolling: Jason Bland and Austin Smith
* Third, pole climbing: Clayton Smith

Dick Daniels, faculty adviser to the UGA Forestry Club, praised the efforts of the students who took the initiative in planning the conclave and raising money to offset the costs of hosting it. “Many clubs said this was the best conclave they had been to,” Daniels said. “Our students can take tremendous pride in their efforts. The experience gained in doing everything it took to pull off an outstanding conclave is something we can’t teach in our courses, and I know each of them will take this experience into their professional careers.”

The forestry club students undertook the arduous task of organizing and raising funds to host the conclave. Not all costs were covered by the entrance fees, Daniels explained. “I can’t say enough about these students,” Daniels said. “Conclave is the highlight of their year, and it is a real joy to work with them to make it happen. This year the benefits of conclave go well beyond just honing forestry skills. Hosting the conclave is providing many more leadership opportunities and experiences in organization, business, fundraising and networking – all of which will be invaluable after they graduate.”

It’s not the first year UGA scored well at conclave. In previous competitions, the UGA team has placed second or third, taking top honors in technical events at the 2010 forestry conclave held in Monticello, Ark., beating other competitors in tree identification, timber estimation, wildlife identification, wood identification, orienteering and aerial photo interpretation.

Although the more showy events like axe throwing, log birling and pole felling get the crowds more excited, the technical events truly highlight Warnell’s excellent forestry curriculum, which reflects the professional skills forestry students earn with their degrees. But this year’s conclave was also an excellent chance to see some pros compete. The Pro/Am Collegiate and Professional Timbersports Series sponsored by Stihl Inc., maker of chainsaws and other power equipment, topped off the first full day of competition by pitting professional and collegiate lumberjacks in a competition based on historic logging techniques. This portion of the conclave is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN2 and ESPNU at a later date. Warnell’s Jason Bland also did well in this event, placing third among collegiate competitors.
For more photos of conclave action, see warnell.smugmug.com.