RUMFORD — Marc Dupuis has seen interest grow, decline and grow again during 27 years of teaching forestry at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology.
Some years, 16 or 17 young people, mostly boys, want to learn the traditional skill of timber harvesting. Other years, only a half-dozen or so have enrolled in the program.
But whether the numbers are great or small, he has focused on two important skills: Always approach harvesting equipment safely and be a responsible employee.
When mid-June rolls around this year, he’ll retire.
“I’ve gotten a lot of kids out there who will give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay,” he said. “I teach them a good work ethic, which is one of the more important things to do.”
Dupuis, 67, is originally from Sherbrooke, P.Q., and a graduate of the former Mexico High School. He has had a varied career that has included self-employment as a wood harvester, work at the former Oxford Paper Co., and bus driver/custodian for the former SAD 43.
Serving as a wood harvesting instructor has had its ups and downs, he said, but he has enjoyed the students as well as summers off to teach truck driving at Region 9.
He’s proud to have had the chance to teach conservation and sustainable forestry.
“I tell them to look everywhere and see whole mountains stripped out. I try to teach the kids to conserve the forest and wildlife,” he said.
Dupuis completed two years of course work through the University of Maine System.
Over the years he has seen many changes in the number of forestry programs offered statewide. He said when he started teaching forestry, there were 13 such programs in secondary vocational schools throughout the state. Now, there are just four, he said.
The cost of timber harvesting is very expensive, he said, and is “hard work.”
Dupuis also mentioned he’s seen many very responsible parents and others who seem to allow their children to raise themselves.
“Some parents have no boundaries, and foul language is prevalent in many students. And it’s getting worse,” he said.
However, he said, “I enjoy most of the kids. There’s something good in all of them.”
As much as he’s enjoyed his work, he said he’s decided it’s time for a change.
“I’m ready for it,” he said. “I like doing stuff around the house.”
He and his wife, Carlene, also plan to try going south.
“Just for one season. When I start thinking about the kids, we’ll be back,” he said.
The couple has three sons and eight grandchildren. He expects to be spending a lot of time with his 2-year-old granddaughter, he said.
Retirement will also bring time to substitute occasionally, perhaps continue to teach trucking during the summers, and to maybe get back into self-employed timber harvesting.