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Intern, Forester, Forest Manager (1976-present)
My life at GMF began in 1976 while I was a forestry student at a small college in Maine. Darrell “Putt” Russ was the forester in charge, Sam Hawley was the forest technician and Ted Childs was pruning white pine plantations on a daily basis and driving a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500 known as the “Bull of the Woods” over the woods road.Each morning the five summer crew members met at the forestry office adjacent to Coolwater, the Childs home. Darrell would begin the day with a Garrison Keillor type monologue that would inevitably take us all back to Darrell’s upbringing in Minnesota. At the end of the monologue we were all given our specific tasks for the day which might include grading the road, cleaning culverts, girdling beech trees, splitting cordwood and the dreaded weeding the nursery. I am proud to say that I had Darrell Russ as my mentor.
The crew boss, Sam Hawley, was a woods savvy field forester; he could fix anything and he could break anything. Sam was a tough man, an Army veteran of WWII that served with the 10th Mountain Division. When Sam was in charge we earned our day’s pay.
Times have changed; the summer crew is not as large as it once was and Ted, Darrell and Sam have gone to the woods. These days, I am in charge of the summer crew and now I know what it was like for Darrell and Sam!!
Each year two students are chosen who are enrolled in college; their major concentration must be forestry or environmental science. These students are given tasks each day that may include road maintenance, building maintenance, timber stand improvement, forest inventory, logging and mechanics. Some of these students have never cut down a tree or turned a wrench but at the end of the summer they leave a little more self confident and a lot stronger.
In the summer of 2012, the GMF crew of 2 (and one volunteer) cut 28 MBF of white pine logs, graded forest roads, split wood, stickered lumber, cruised and marked a log job, thinned a young sugar maple stand to create a sugar bush for maple syrup production as part of a USDA EQUIP grant and on rainy days fixed broken equipment.
It has been said at GMF that we have grown as many foresters as we have trees. I don’t believe that is true, but I do know that the trees are much better here because of the young forestry students who have nurtured them.
After my first summer on the GMF forestry crew I was able to read a compass, swing an axe and swat a black fly all at the same time. The student foresters that served on the GMF Summer Crew are a proud bunch, the time we spent working with Putt Russ and Sam Hawley will stay with us our entire lives. With hope and support GMF can continue to carry on the tradition of giving young foresters a chance to experience working in the woods at Great Mountain Forest.