FARMINGTON — The Forestry and Wood Harvesting program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center has added more certification options, new learning opportunities and more projects for its students.

Rodney Spiller teaches the forestry program assisted by Dean Merrill.

Spiller said a new certification, Northeast Safe Logger is now available through Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands (TCNEF) for students and any logger who wishes to be certified.

“This opens things up, gives discounts on insurance rates,” he said. “It took some time, myself working closely with TCNEF and PLC (Professional Logging Contractors of Maine) to bring this into the program to have another option. I was able to get it passed through the Department of Education to get another credential.”

The 16-hour interactive online training can be completed at an individual’s own pace day or night. It can be saved and restarted at any time but must be completed within 14 days. The fee for all CTE students is $75. Cost for other loggers is $100-$300 based on their employer’s certifications.

“Everybody was very receptive to having opportunities for another credential for loggers, to have different options out in the field,” Spiller said.


Spiller said the forestry program purchased a new skid steer through a grant.

“It adds another piece of equipment to the program. Having a joy-stick controlled machine helps,” he said. “It will give more experience not only to kids going into forestry but heavy equipment or construction fields.”

Students in the forestry program will be posting Safety Zone signs along all Mt. Blue district property lines, Spiller said.

Forestry and Wood Harvesting instructor Rodney Spiller holds one of the signs that students will be posting along Mt. Blue property lines. The students will also work on a cutting plan for school property. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

“I’ll be working with the kids to come up with cutting plans for the properties,” he said. “Some need to be thinned so other trees can grow.

“It was exciting to see all the property lines. It will be a good experience for the kids. They will use compasses, GPS to learn things they need to know.”

Another fairly new offering is the Mechanized Logging Operations Program (MLOP).


“I’ve had some students go through the program,” Spiller said. “Afterwards they are directly employed.

“It’s a very important program. One thing people lack is seat time on machines, learning basics from ergonomics to operations to decision making.”

Donald Burr was in Farmington Wednesday, Feb. 12, to give a presentation about MLOP to forestry students. Prior to his presentation, he said MLOP will be June 22 – Sept. 17 this year, somewhere in the Old Town area.

The program, administered through Northern Maine Community College is a partnership between that college, PLC and equipment dealers Caterpillar, Nortrax, Labonville and Davco.

Burr said, “We’re an education-to-work program. We’re the first hump to getting into employment.

“For us, it’s all about seat time, making decisions. We run seven different pieces of equipment that are rotated through.


“We have contractors come in all summer. Students get to know them. Everybody has an opportunity to get a job although some have chosen not to.”

Burr said the program is free for CTE students but they are responsible for their own room and board. Students must be 18 when they finish the program but may be 17 while taking it. Older people may also apply for the program.

New educational opportunities and certifications are available to students in the Forestry and Wood Harvesting program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington. Donald Burr at right explains the Mechanized Logging Operations Program for students. If they choose, participants have jobs upon completion of the program. Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser

MLOP applicants must have their diploma or equivalent to participate. Licenses and background are checked. They are then interviewed and drug tested.

“If they pass all the hurdles, we invite them into the program,” Burr said.

The program is in its fourth year and was held in the Stratton area last year.

“We go to major landowners, they allow us to cut on their land,” Burr said. “It’s just like a logging contractor except we move a whole lot slower.”


Program funding has been secured for the next three years through the state’s Put Maine to Work fund. Two programs may be offered next year.

Burr said the program for up to 16 students runs five days a week, with two 8-hour shifts. 6.5 hours is spent on equipment, 1.5 hours in class and half an hour for lunch.

Those accepted to MLOP must have completed the Northeast Safe Logger training.

More information on Northeast Safe Logger is available at

More information on MLOP is available by calling 207-768-2768 or visiting

Spiller said February is CTE month and the forestry program is participating in the center’s scavenger hunt and relay race.


“Our students work hard in all the programs. We want to get them outside, let loose and learn about other programs,” he said. “We want them to have fun.”

Spiller has also volunteered time for the new ‘boot camp’ that will be started for eighth grade students this summer.

“It helps with the difference between the technical and the teaching sides,” he said. “We actually have to recruit our kids, get out there and give kids a spark of interest for our programs.

“The state wants us to work with younger kids to get that spark. Having the option to be outside keeps kids in school.”

The forestry program participates in the Career Cluster program for freshmen and sophomores with 10 students participating. 12 students are enrolled in the first-year program and five in the advanced group. One of those students is Eddie Hebert, a senior who recently announced his intention to play football next year at UMaine.

Students in the Forestry and Wood Harvesting program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington learn by doing. Seen with a large pine tree they cut down are from left Kyle Couture, instructor Rodney Spiller, Trent Tibbetts, Tucker Nicholas, Junior Tyler and Eddie Hebert. Hebert will study forestry and play football at UMaine next year. Submitted photo

Hebert said, “It’s just a wonderful atmosphere. When you want to be here, are devoted to the program, you learn what they’re teaching.”


Hebert’s dad was a UMaine graduate who was a forester for 40+ years. Hebert will be studying forestry at UMaine. His goal is to become a licensed professional forester and cut wood.

“The biggest thing I learned here is knowing how they run a classroom is how I would want to run a business or shop,” he said. “Nobody is inferior to anyone else.

“I know firsthand. When you feel inferior to somebody you’re working with, you don’t want to be there, don’t work as hard.

“They’ve taught me lots of wonderful things; that’s the biggest.”

Spiller said Hebert has already started a business plan.

“He’s cutting wood now, using his business plan to start his own business along with going to Orono,” he said.






















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