My brother and his forestry team won state. Yay for them! They now get to go represent Alabama at the 4-H Forestry National Competition in Weston, West Virginia. I got to have this opportunity a few years ago, and let me tell you, it is tough. Alabama is THE best team in the nation, and when I say that, I'm totally serious. Out of the 20 or so years that Alabama has been competing, they've won it 14 times. We're going on our 7th or 8th straight year to win it. It's getting to the point where other states don't even want to show up anymore.
Teams measure trees to estimate the total volume of salable wood in an area of land in board feet (cruising timber). They do this with a tool called a Biltmore stick. They also learn how to identify trees, how to identify common forest insects and diseases, learn to interpret a topographical map, use a compass to determine direction and estimate distance by walking, and participate in a forest evaluation where the team is given a hypothetical scenario and asked to determine what forest practices would be best used.
In addition to all these "practical" knowledge and skills, the team has a lot of actual studying to do as they prepare for a forestry quiz bowl something like jeopardy. Believe me, you have to know A LOT of seemingly innocuous facts about trees, forest, and forest management practices.
It may sound REALLY geeky, and it is. But believe me, people get really into it. Roger, our county's coach, has been coaching winning forestry teams for many years. The Alabama/Coosa County has a reputation to uphold, even if most people in the state (or the county!) even don't know about it.
The state competition is around the 1st of June, and then the winning team has June and July to prepare for nationals. Most of Samuel's teammates have been doing this since they were 9 years old and this is their first year to compete on the senior level.
I and three other girls won it 2 years ago: I was the top individual scorer that year. You can read all about us (and see a picture!) in this link:
Holly is cool, baby, but this is an ugly picture of her.
And, I have a picture of the will-be 2005 National Forestry Champions
L-R:Anna, Doug, Justin, The Coolest Eva: Blake, Samuel, The Corniest Eva Coach: Ol' Rog', and Elijah
Notice their dork brown shirts. If you could read what is printed on them, you would probably agree with me that they are just plain dork shirts. Also, Rog' and Blake are wearing the camo shirts that we (my 2003 team) got for winning Forestry. Go us.