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Harvest event shows students the anchors of their forestry-based communitiesSubmitted: 04/20/2015

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GOODMAN - Without its veneer mill, the community of Goodman would likely decline and lose its school. The mill employs a large proportion of people in town. That reliance on the forest products industry makes education about sustainable forestry a must for students in Goodman.

"Well, I would describe it as loud, of course," said Goodman-Armstrong Creek sixth grader Mia Schaller after seeing a harvester fell tall trees, then take off their branches and cut them into even-length logs.

Schaller was one of hundreds of students learning about the forestry industry in a unique way on Monday.

The Goodman School Forest was due to be harvested, so the school decided to make the event an educational opportunity. Students observed the harvest in action, but also learned about building homes with forest products, identifying trees, operating machinery, and more.

"This is our occupation, our livelihood," said Wild Rivers Forestry President Mark Huemphner, whose company was busy harvesting the forest.

It's the livelihood for countless parents of students experiencing the forest industry in Goodman on Monday. That's true whether the parents are of students attending Goodman-Armstrong Creek or any of the five other schools also invited to participate.

"These communities here, they exist because of this industry," said Goodman-Armstrong Creek Superintendent Ben Niehaus. "Our schools, these towns, they're all built on the forest products industry."

Niehaus saw his event as a way to expose students to the industry that means so much to the area. Many of the students may have been experiencing jobs they'll one day hold.

"If you didn't know about forestry, this would be a good chance to know, so you know what's going on, what other jobs you could look forward to," said Goodman-Armstrong Creek freshman Kristyn Gardner.

After using a harvester simulator, she could see herself doing it someday.

"As soon as I got used to it, it seemed pretty cool," she said.

Wild Rivers Forestry didn't submit the highest bid to harvest the school forest. But it offered to help put on the school event. That educational opportunity was a logical tradeoff for the school board, leading to Monday's successful event.

"I think it's very important that the students understand and can appreciate why the Goodman and Armstrong Creek communities, and many other communities in the Northwoods, are here," Niehaus said. "It's because of this industry."

Story By: Ben Meyer

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