Wood is Good on the road in the South

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The first day of the industry’s Wood is Good roadshow started at Outram School for 176 Students, Principal Kim Allan and about 8 other teachers. Dynes Transport provided a log truck and manager Calum McCreath along with their driver to spend the whole day showing classes around and though their log truck. Wenita Forestry kindly sponsored high vis vests for the entire school and regional manager Willie Sinclair spent the morning talking at the whole assembly, providing a drone flying demonstration on the sports field for the entire school and going class to class explaining what a forester does. The purpose of these sessions is to explain to both students and teachers how forestry works in New Zealand, what a forester does, how much forestry contributes to their local community and how wood products are made and used in everyday life in New Zealand.

Bringing a log truck to a school provides much excitement for students, many of whom have never seen one up close, and day two of our roadshow at Port Chalmers School was no exception. Teachers and 115 students lined up to have a turn sitting in the truck and touching and counting the growth rings on the logs. Giving out spot prizes of rolls of toilet paper created great hilarity in the assembly and City Forests staff Kent Chalmers and Matt Cotterrell were excellent ambassadors for our sector handing out the sponsored vests, with Matt flying his drone on the tennis courts and walking classes round the grounds giving tree talks on the differing exotic and native species.

MPI staff member Erica Smith entertained younger students with book reading from our “Fred the Forester” series, getting students to point out things in their class made of wood, and answering questions like, “How is paper made?” Older classes were treated to careers talks from Kent Chalmers and class discussions on how forestry works in Otago along with tree measurement. Dynes Transport staff Des and Dray were very patient showing classes around their truck and giving a whole day of time off the road, these volunteer sessions are not without cost to these businesses.

Day three of Wood is Good saw the team travel to the old forestry town of Tapanui, where Ernslaw One staff Phil de la Mare and Mark Dean attended the assembly for 85 students and completed the drone flying demonstration along with the sponsored vests. Dynes Transport local office is located in Tapanui and when students were asked who had family members working in forestry, many put their hands up. Part of including the local forestry and transport companies in these sessions is to reinforce the fact that these local communities have many working in our sector.

Erica Smith from the Invercargill MPI office attended and gave her time reading to younger students and participating in tree walks around the school grounds, adding her knowledge to the facts about native and deciduous trees. Again, Dynes Transport donated a whole day of their loaded log truck to rotate classes out while Calum talked them through the logs and safety issues.

Wood is Good is an MPI and FGLT funded national primary school’s program. Coordinated by all 8 Wood Councils across New Zealand and lead by Erica Kinder and the Southern North Island Wood Council. Erica has travelled to most of these days across NZ, bringing forestry books, wooden toys, colouring in competitions and brochures designed for primary schools around forestry. There are always rolls of toilet paper to hand out at assemblies along with showing the “Log Truck Safety Video” designed for the program by Erica.

For Southland there are 2 further days planned for later in the year around Invercargill with forestry company Rayonier, McNeil Distribution and DT King Transport. These are nearly always a full day at a school with an assembly followed by drone flying demonstration, then classroom sessions with Erica and the forestry team while classes view the log truck and talk safety.

The future of this pilot program is unknown as IBT funding runs out in 2021. The huge update in schools across New Zealand has shown the great need for these presentations and explanations around our sector, and with a waiting list of schools for 2022, we can only hope that this program is continued to be supported with funding. Follow the journey of the team on Facebook as they travel across New Zealand.

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