• Loleta Elementary School fourth- and fifth-grade teacher Heather Nyberg won third place in the Redwood Region Logging Conference mural contest. The award comes with a $100 cash prize which teacher Nyberg said she would put toward activities in her classroom. - PHOTOS BY MARY BULLWINKEL —FOR THE TIMES-STANDARD

  • Pictured: the log loader competition, one of many events at this year’s Redwood Region Logging Conference in Ukiah.



Under the theme “Growing Trees and Careers in the Redwood Region,” the 80th annual Redwood Region Logging Conference (RRLC) was held in March at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah.

The 2018 President of the RRLC, which alternates between Ukiah and Eureka, was Dan Falk of Falk Forestry Services in Stewart’s Point in Sonoma County. During his presidential address Falk said he was optimistic about the future and “it looks like we’re going to have some good years to come.” He also said there was more logging equipment on display this year at the Conference than in years past, another indication that the industry is in good shape.

Keynote speaker at the RRLC was Bob Mertz, Chief Executive Officer of Mendocino Redwood Company, who also talked of a healthy future for the timber industry.

Education is a key focus of the RRLC every year, including activities such as awarding scholarships, recognizing the young student artists who participate in the mural contest, a career day, and the first day of the conference being dedicated to onsite visits from local students.

This year 1,200 students from Mendocino and Lake Counties attended Education Day on March 15. Periods of rain did not dampen the spirits of the students who were escorted around the Fairgrounds by volunteer tour guides to learn more about the timber industry and enjoy some of the events taking place. Events included a lumberjack show, performed by students from Humboldt State University and Cal State Berkeley, and a live wildlife show from Conservation Ambassadors.

Career Day was held March 16 and was aimed at high school students. Twelve industry professionals were stationed on the Fairgrounds and groups of 25 students rotated to each station to learn about career opportunities in the timber industry. More than 250 Mendocino and Lake Counties high school students attended Career Day.

Eleven Humboldt County Schools brought home awards in the annual mural contest, including several in the Eel River Valley and Southern Humboldt. The mural contest is divided into two age groups: Kindergarten through third grade, and fourth through sixth grades.

Whitethorn Elementary School and teacher Elizabeth Ballou won first place and $200 in the grades four through six category. Second place (and $150) went to Mattole Valley Charter School and teacher Debbi Sholes and third place (and $100) went to Loleta Elementary School and teacher Heather Nyberg. Three honorable mention awards were handed out, including Rio Dell Elementary teacher Cassie Fontaine.

On the Kindergarten through 3rd grade level, first place went to Ridgewood School and teacher Karin Lemmon. Second place was awarded to North Coast Learning Academy and teacher Amanda Sharp, and third place was given to South Fortuna Elementary School and teacher Susana Coleman.

More than 500 people attended the Friday evening banquet and auction, with proceeds from the auction dedicated to year-round educational activities. And although final figures are still being calculated, Redwood Region Logging Conference officials say it was a record breaking year for auction proceeds.

Next year in March, the Redwood Region Logging Conference returns to Eureka under the leadership of Jake Morris, of Steve Morris Logging in McKinleyville.

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