When I moved to Ohio, I started my career as a forester with high expectations, not much experience, and zero understanding of what I was getting into. Well, that’s not totally true. I had a degree in forestry, knew most of the tree species, passed forest entomology and silviculture, and spent six weeks at spring camp wandering around trying to get the feeling of what a day in the life of a “working” forester would be like. I knew most of the basics that every other graduate would need before beginning the journey that some call life or others call it, “a promising career!” I had never met or worked with a real life logger! You know who I’m talking about. They are the small businessmen (and women) that our multi-billion dollar industry depends on to cut and haul the raw material for every product we use, from toilet paper to toothpicks! Our industry exists, and has thrived, because of loggers. Every logger I have met has an endless work ethic, a strong faith in God, commitment to provide for their families, and an optimistic outlook! They leave early in the morning and return home when the last log is strapped to the truck! They are the “lifeblood” and “backbone” of our industry!
I have worked with many loggers. Those individuals either “wake up with the chickens” or before that. They arrive on the job in the dark and watch the first load move off the landing by the crack of dawn! They invest small fortunes in equipment, and that investment can exceed the value of their home. The weather isn’t always sunny and mild. Many months of the year, gray skies and cold, wet conditions prevail. Regardless of what mother nature throws their way, loggers are in the woods and, literally, pushing out the next load!
Back in 1988, those “Loads of Logs” were important to a couple of loggers and a few forest industry leaders. They started a nationwide giving campaign recognized today as “Log a Load for Kids.” The loggers and wood-supplying businesses would donate the value of a load of logs, or any amount of money, to a nearby Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospital, and their donations would be used for treating ill or injured children. Historically, over $2,000,000 is raised annually for the CMN and over $46 million since 1992. The generosity and discrete acts of kindness are in the “DNA” of many loggers. Helping others is second nature, and “loving your neighbor” is how many loggers begin the day.
FRA provides an award to show appreciation to a logger, contractor, or supplier, which is the Regional Logger of the Year award. This is an opportunity for forest products companies, state associations, private landowners, or others to recognize a logger who is a leader in the woods, our industry, or your community. On occasion, FRA struggles to get nominations within our six regions, and when that happens, we are failing to “seize the moment.” We are all concerned that loggers are retiring, and logging capacity is on the decline. Being prepared and giving some thought to your Regional Logger of the Year may be all it takes to keep a good logger from leaving a business that previous generations of his family have all enjoyed! Placing a reminder in the day-planner or electronic calendar on January 1, 2022, will help begin the process to nominate a logger. Your FRA regional representative can answer questions or assist you with crafting that nomination. By the way, all regional winners automatically move on to compete for our National Logger of the Year!
“Logger”- What’s in a name? I would say, “everything our industry depends on.”