Thru The Trees – A contest for students that can help educate all of us!

Thru the Trees logo

The second year of an exciting contest is going to launch September 1, 2021! It is designed to inspire students and promote the industry.


The contest is a culmination of many years and ideas. As many know, workforce development has been an ongoing topic of discussion – sometimes concern – in the forest industry. National, regional, and state associations have tried multiple ideas to assist members in finding new employees when they have open positions.

In early 2019, the Forest Resources Association began a pilot project in the West called “Workforce Connections.” The main goal was to connect industry companies and those individuals looking for employment. We wanted to be the “umbrella” to ensure that all stakeholders were seeing as much information as possible to encourage more dialogue throughout the hiring process. A big part of this connection was interacting with educational institutions throughout the region. Students, graduates, and professors should be able to learn about our industry, see what jobs are available, and what the job markets will look like in the future. FRA’s job board was shared with educational representatives across the region. The expectation was that professors would share the details with students and alumni. Some of the schools even shared the link directly to their websites.

When the pandemic hit, and we knew things were not going to be the same for the next months, years, or longer, a few Pacific Northwest association representatives jumped on Zoom and discussed what we could do differently to continue the mission of promoting the industry – and the jobs within – to the generation that was learning online.

Many things were discussed on the call, but the one reoccurring item was that we needed to get in front of younger students to ensure the industry’s story was being heard positively and EARLY! The fact that the “TikTok Generation” saw things very creatively and perhaps much differently got us thinking that a video contest for high school students could open up an opportunity to tap into skills relatively unused in this arena to promote the forest industry. One goal was to bring more positive promotion to forestry from youth, with the primary audience being their peers. In addition, these videos would also be watched by K-8 students, parents, and teachers.

We reached out to state and regional associations within a four-state region (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington) to see if there was any interest in collaborating to create a video contest to promote the forest industry and encourage students to pursue careers in our industry. The response was tremendous. At first (June 2020 through January 2021), many of us met weekly to determine the details of what the contest should be. It was a learning curve for many of us. We all learned A LOT!

The top prize for the video contest submitters is $1000.00. Second prize is $500.00, with the third prize winner taking home $250.00.

The creative winners from last year’s contest set the bar high. Check the 2020 winning videos HERE.


Currently, a smaller – very enthusiastic – group of industry reps are working to finalize the details for the contest that will run from September 1, 2021, to April 15, 2022. The task team includes:

  • Jill Bell (Weyerhaeuser, Oregon Women in Timber)
  • Jennifer Byerly (Project Learning Tree / Sustainable Forestry Initiative)
  • Norie Dimeo-Ediger (Oregon Forest Resources Institute)
  • Beth Krisko (Forests Today and Forever)
  • Diane Mettler (Pacific Logging Congress)
  • Sara Nelson/Amanda Astor (Associated Oregon Loggers, Inc.)
  • Marie Price (Idaho Forest Group)
  • Vickie Swanton (Forest Resources Association)
  • Michelle Youngquist (Idaho Forest Products Commission)

In the last few months, we have created smaller sub-committees to focus on three main topics. The sub-committees have been busy – and productive!

  • Website Revisions: The team has reviewed and updated the original website design, with many improvements. Many of the key documents were also edited to ensure ease of use, etc.
  • Social Media: Thru the Trees is active on multiple social media platforms, including FacebookInstagram, and TikTok. Check them out!! Through these platforms, the contest is actively promoted with posts added multiple times monthly.
  • Rubric Content: The contest’s rubric has been reviewed and revised to ensure clarity to video submitters and judges.

The criterion for the contest includes:

  • Interviewing at least one forestry professional.
  • Listing research resources.
  • No plagiarism, violence, etc.
  • Video not to exceed 90 seconds in length.

As the program continues to succeed, we hope to expand to other regions.


We could not do this without support from amazing industry organizations. Sponsors from last year’s contest: For the current contest, we have updated the sponsorship levels.

Please let me know if you are interested in sponsorship. You can either fill out the sponsorship form included HERE for your convenience or contact me at [email protected] / 906.282.6752. I look forward to hearing from you!