Page 12 - Georgia Forestry - Spring 2020
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  Students from Coastal Pines Technical College’s Timber Harvesting program get on-the-job training for a career in forestry.
Coastal Pines Technical College
With locations stretching across 13 counties from Waycross to Brunswick, Coastal Pines Technical College (CPTC) is right in the heart of Georgia’s wood basket.
the field. “We’re taking the students to logging crews or mills every Tuesday and Thursday during classes,” Peagler said.
By the time the students graduate at the end of the program in May, they have a good idea of what they want to do, Peagler said. “We get students who want to get on equipment, or want to be for- esters, or want to weld, and that’s okay,” he continued. “We want to expose them to new experiences to help them decide on that next step, whether in forestry or not.” Of the 45 students currently enrolled in the Timber Harvesting pro- grams, Peagler expects about 15 will want to get on harvesting equipment and five of those will be “woods-ready” and placed with local timber companies. He said that their industry partners think that’s right on to meet their demand.
For three weeks in June, after the stu- dents graduate, those 15 students get on-the-job training with equipment on loan from Caterpillar, CAT, Yancey Bros, Tigercat Tidewater and Flint Equipment Company. The Georgia Forestry Com- mission allows them to use state lands in the Dixon Memorial State Forest to learn how to operate the equipment. The timber they harvest during those three weeks is delivered to partner mills in Brunswick, Waycross and Blackshear.
The CPTC programs are serving as a model for other technical colleges to also begin training timber harvesters and forestry professionals. Peagler reported that he gets calls from all over Georgia and Florida from people who are inter- ested in adapting them for their own schools. “We can supply the workers that are needed for our industry, partic- ularly in our rural areas, through these tech programs,” Peagler said. “We’re glad others are looking to replicate what we’re doing here at Coastal Pines.”
  Many forestry companies are within driving distance from at least one of CPTC’s seven satellite campuses, and almost all of those companies are always looking for skilled employees. When talking with these forestry companies, CPTC staff kept hearing about the diffi- culty finding qualified people to fill job openings, especially for logging crews.
“There are high school students in the area who are capable to do that kind of work, but they don’t have the training and knowledge to meet the companies’ stan- dards,” said Tommy Peagler, Forestry/ Timber Harvesting Instructor at CPTC. “We just need to train them.”
In 2016, Peagler and others launched CPTC’s two Timber Harvesting cer- tificate programs. Both let area high school students dual enroll during their senior year, allowing them to graduate with both their high school diploma and Master Timber Harvester Certification. The program started at Pierce County High School in Blackshear and has since expanded to Charlton County High School in Folkston, Jeff Davis High School in Hazlehurst and Appling County High School in Baxley.
The 12 credit hours required for the Basic Timber Harvesting program cover Introduction to Timber Harvest- ing Safety, Forest Products Marketing, Woodland Skills and Timber Industry Standards. The Timber Harvesting Operations program requires an addi- tional six credit hours in Timber Harvest Equipment Operations. The year-long program costs between $1,500 and $2,000 for in-state students — a fifth of the average annual in-state college tuition in Georgia.12
Students split their time in both pro- grams between in-class instruction and job shadowing and demonstrations in
about Coastal Pines Technical College’s Timber Harvesting certification programs, visit forestry-technology.
12) CollegeCalc, “Georgia Colleges, Cost and Affordability for 2020,”

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