OXFORD – Around 80 forestry students from five area technical schools gathered Thursday at the Oxford County Fairgrounds to hone their skills as woodsmen.

It was the first day of the 27th annual Junior Woodsman’s Competition, which continues Friday with the chain-saw events.

Participating were forestry students from Oxford Hills Technical School in Paris, Region 9 Vocational Center in Rumford, Foster Technical Center in Farmington, Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft and Northern Penobscot Technical School in Lincoln.

The competitions, for which prizes and ribbons are awarded, test the students’ skills in traditional woodsmen events such as crosscut saw, log roll, ax throw and the two-person crosscut saw.

“It gives them an opportunity to compete against their peers” and develop their muscle control and accuracy, said Frank Burnett of the Northern Penobscot Technical School. In the classroom and in the woods, forestry students of today must have a higher level of technical knowledge and forestry standards to succeed after graduation, he said.

“Forestry is still alive and well” as an occupation in the state, although “the face of forestry is changing very dramatically,” with its new technology and standards. “We still have to supply a workforce, and we’re putting some good kids out there,” he said.

Friday’s events start at 7:30 a.m. with the log roll, followed by the spring pole, bore station and precision felling.

Students traveling from far distances will be camping out overnight Thursday.


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