Family Forestry Fair Offers Students Hands-on Learning Opportunities

The 35th annual weeklong expo kicks off May 6 at the Trumbull Creek Education Center west of Columbia Falls

By Tristan Scott
Nate Cole, Management Forester for the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, prepares a larch log for milling as part of a demonstration during the 30th Annual Family Forestry Expo in the Trumbull Creek Educational Forest near Columbia Falls on May 9, 2019. The expo offers hands-on exposure to forested environments through a series interactive exhibitions. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Every May in northwest Montana, a group of foresters, loggers, land managers, biologists, and educators trot out a familiar old saw to showcase their forestry fair: “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”

The oft-quoted John Muir truism works on a couple levels, capturing the deep well of knowledge that lies untapped beneath the natural environment, waiting to be explored by the next generation of burgeoning land stewards, as well as the more utilitarian purpose of milling timber to frame out a door.

Working in tandem, the Muir quote is a fitting motto to describe the annual Family Forestry Expo, a weeklong forestry fair that kicks off May 6 for its 35th edition and continues through May 11, offering more than 1,200 local fifth-grade students from 28 schools stretching from Eureka to Columbia Falls the opportunity to learn about natural resource issues in this corner of Montana.

This year’s theme is “Forests – Landscapes of Many Uses,” which will be on prominent display next week as 18 classes tour either the F. H. Stoltze Land and Lumber Co. mill or the Weyerhaeuser mill near Columbia Falls. The remaining classes will have the opportunity to take part in a portable sawmill demonstration and visit stations representing lumber manufacturing and forest products.

On Saturday, May 11, families are invited to share in expo activities from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Trumbull Creek Educational Forest, located about two miles north of the junction of U.S. Highway 2 and Montana Highway 40, just west of Columbia Falls. For directions, visit: https://www.familyforestryexpo.org/directions-to-the-family-forestry-expo/

The family-oriented event features a short forest walk, offering educational stations and demonstrations along the way. Each station provides information and hands-on activities that allow participants to learn about the many uses of our forests, private and public. Various exhibits will also be on display featuring local organizations, businesses and agencies that care for natural resources.

The expo offers hands-on exposure to forested environments through a series interactive exhibitions. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The inaugural expo was organized in 1989 and was just a single-day affair attended by more than 200 local students. By 1992, the expo stretched to five days, and has continued to grow every year since due to a collective community effort.

The Family Forestry Expo event takes place through the dedicated involvement of over 30 diverse organizations including local service clubs, forest industry representatives, government natural resource agencies, conservation groups, professional societies, local businesses, and numerous local donations.

For more information call 758-5218 or visit www.familyforestryexpo.org and www.facebook.com/familyforestryexpo.