Stephen Holland
Sooke, BC, Canada
Skills for Success
Successful High School Logging Course
Grade 11 students using skidderThe following describes a successful career program I developed and ran for 10 years, which demonstrates what high school students can do when given responsiblity.

In a rural high school in Lumby, BC (east of Vernon), the principal told me that too many grade 10 students were dropping out of school with no skills. He asked me to develop a small logging program for grade 10.

It quickly expanded with support of the community and industry, and almost eliminated dropouts from the rural high school. Many local people told me. "I wish they had that program when I was in school!"

In 1977, I and several other vocational teachers worked with the British Columbia Ministry of Education and created the "CAREER-PREP" program which is still the basis of serious vocational training in all BC high schools. My logging proram was a pilot project for Career Prep.

By the time the program had matured in the late 1970s, students were logging 17 truckloads per year, bringing in $15,000 per year to the school district.

---- Grade 10 students learned basic chainsaw and falling skills, and were falling trees up to 3 feet in diameter using up to 90cc chainsaws with 36" bars.

---- Grade 11 students emphasized production logging, spending two days a week in the woods with a retired logger as supervisor.

---- Grade 12
students completely rebuilt a logging truck, and learned air brakes, preventive maintenance, cruising, scaling, and even blasting.

Grade 12 connecting dynamite fuseBLASTING WITH DYNAMITE - Grade 12
(left) Under the guidance of a professional blaster, grade 12 students blasted rocks and stumps from our logging road. Students did all the work, drilling holes with a pneumatic drill, installing blasting caps and lighting fuses. In class, students had to take a test on proper blasting techniques.

Students typically used 150 sticks of dynamite in one day (I sent a bill for a half-case of dynamite to the school board as "teaching supplies").

At left is a grade 12 student connecting detonating cord to the blasting cap fuse, to break up a rock

'60 Kenworth w/ Cummins 220 dieselREBUILDING A LOGGING TRUCK -- Grade 12
In one year my grade 12 students completely rebuilt a logging truck that had been donated to the school. I had always felt that truck driving was a very important job in our society but was ignored as a career field in high school.

I found a local logging company who would donate a junked logging truck (left) that had been rolled, with the cab bent and the engined seized. We rebuilt the engine and cab, and put in new airbrake and electrical components, then had it painted school colors. I put in a solid black walnut dash with new chrome gauges, and we reupholstered the interior. After only 12 months one of my students drove it in a parade (below).

School Logging truck in paradeLogging truck engine

Grade 11 students learning controls of bulldozerWe had our own school bulldozer and skidder, and were often loaned expensive equipment by Finning Tractor (such as a new Caterpillar bulldozer for 3 weeks to make new logging roads, at left). and a large skidder (top of page)

Students did all the work of maintaining equipment in our school shop

Other activities include raising salmon as partners with the Fish and Game Club, which involved building fish hatchery boxes.

For several years I had my own work horses, so I taught horse-logging to my students.
Students riding in helicopter used for logging (near my house)Students also got experience flying airplanes at the Kelowna airport in case they wanted to be a bush pilot, and

(left) Students experienced helicopter logging during two years when a company was using a landing on my land. (Students at left are going for a ride; the helicopter here is a short distance from my house)

We logged 10 acres per year, selectively cutting -- removing big timber and unhealthy trees, and leaving smaller, healthy trees. Each year grade 10 beginners practiced chainsaws by cutting last-year's slash near the ground to encourage rot, and by the 3nd year the forest looked like no one had logged it, with grass and flowers between the trees in a park-like setting.

Students also took a course in business skills from the business teacher, so they could start their own contracting business.

I wrote a textbook on logging for my classes, and wrote the provincial curriculum guide for forestry courses.