Boots on the Ground gives aspiring students career pathways in logging industry

Area high school students were recently able to have some on-the-job training for the logging and lumber industry. The students visited two active logging jobs on Green Diamond Resource Company land in the Crannell area, and North Fork Lumber Company’s mill in Korbel. (Mary Bullwinkel – For the Times-Standard)
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A dozen Humboldt County high school students got a firsthand look at the logging and lumber industry last week, and learned about employment opportunities, with a special focus on current jobs available.

“We do hire kids with no experience,” Green Diamond Resource Company logging manager Kevin Nichols said at an active logging site in the Crannell area. “We’ll start you at ground zero and train you. I know it looks intimidating, but no one expects you to know everything, (and) if you have the desire and ability, you can work anywhere out here.”

The students were taking part in a program called Boots on the Ground, coordinated by the Redwood Region Logging Conference. The idea for the in-the-woods training came from 2019 RRLC president Jake Morris.

The Boots on the Ground program, an in-woods training experience, was the idea of 2019 Redwood Region Logging Conference president Jake Morris, center, wearing the white hard hat, who is pictured talking with some high school students. (Mary Bullwinkel — for the Times-Standard)

Morris said for those interested in working in the woods, the keys to success are simple.

“Do what you’re told to do and show up every day,” he said. “Show ambition, pay attention, listen and learn. That’s how you move up the ladder and it pays huge dividends down the road.”

Green Diamond Resource Company Klamath Division logging and roads superintendent Joel Rink told the students that if they are interested, they could enter a trade right out of high school.

“You don’t need to go to college,” he said. “College is not for everybody and there are a lot of opportunities of good paying jobs (in the timber industry).”

Fortuna logger Tony Leonardo, owner of Leonardo Logging, accompanied the students during the in-woods training, and said that’s how he got his start in the business.

“I went to work in the timber industry right out of high school,” he said.

Fortuna logger Tony Leonardo, far left, of Leonard Logging said there are jobs available now for those who want to go to work in the woods right out of high school. (Mary Bullwinkel — for the Times-Standard)

He told the students that there are many jobs available now, and he echoed Morris.

“Show up, work hard, and that’s how you make a name for yourself. If you work hard, there will always be a job out there,” Leonardo said.

Describing the logging and lumber industry as a tight-knit family, Leonardo said if someone contacted him about a possible job opportunity and he had none, he would refer the potential new employee to another company.

“That’s the way it works in this industry,” he said.

The students visited two active logging sites on Green Diamond Resource Company land, and then toured North Fork Lumber Company’s Korbel sawmill. Along the way, students were able to ask questions and interact one-on-one with logging and lumber industry professionals.

Careers discussed included logging, lumber mill workers, biologists, heavy equipment operators and diesel mechanics.

Each of the students also received a gift certificate for a new pair of work boots, which will be custom ordered by Strehl’s Shoes in Fortuna.

“We hope this will be a pair of work boots for their future career in the timber industry,” RRLC executive director Katherine Ziemer said.

She said memorial donations in the names of Richard Jackson and Bob Chambers were received, making the gift of a pair of work boots for each student possible.

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