News & Features

Family Forest Expo Celebrates 30 Years

More than 1,300 fifth-graders from Eureka to Charlo visited the Trumbull Experimental Forest last week

The 30th annual Family Forestry Expo took place at the Trumbull Experimental Forest near Columbia Falls from May 6 to 11. The annual event allows students and families the chance to see firsthand how forests play a role in everyday life in Northwest Montana.

More than 1,300 fifth-graders from across the Northwest Montana and as far as Eureka and Charlo were able to learn about natural resource management, industry and conservation. On May 11, families were welcomed to take part in a short forest walk with educational stations and demonstrations along the way.

“If anyone is concerned about their kid spending too much time in front of a screen, this is a great event,” said Ali Ulwelling, forestry assistance specialists for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

The Family Forestry Expo dates back to 1989, when an extension forester brought the idea for a festival to engage the public about conservation and industry with him from Oregon. The inaugural expo was just one day and was attended by more than 200 local students. By 1992, it had been stretched to five days and was attended annually by more than 1,300 students.

Ulwelling said the event features a number exhibits, including those focusing on fisheries, archaeology, wildlife, wildfire, backcountry ethics, plant identification, and forest management. The event is put on by a coalition of 30 different organizations, including state and federal agencies, timber and logging companies and nonprofit groups. The event takes place on 40 acres north of the Blue Moon in Columbia Falls that was donated by F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber.

“It’s been a collaboration since the beginning,” Ulwelling said.

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