WINCHESTER — The timber industry has changed, and with it, the education needed to succeed in the industry.
To keep up with changes in forestry, Umpqua Community College will offer renewable materials as a new program.
“If you were a farmer in the 1930s, maybe tractors were new. So instead of needing someone who could shoe horses, you would need someone who could change a tire and fix a motor,” UCC Associate Professor of Forestry Jarred Saralecos said. “We’re seeing the same thing in forestry today. Where we are transitioning every year to a more high-tech field, where we’re using drone technology for forest management, where we’re using scanners and 3D lasers in wood manufacturing, where we are producing new and improved forest product.”
UCC will offer four different degree options within the program: advanced wood manufacturing, art and design, management and marketing, and science and engineering. Those courses, as well as forestry, natural resources and agricultural business, offer transfer opportunities to Oregon State University in Corvallis.
A need for a renewable materials program was brought to the attention of administrators at the college by an advisory board of local industry leaders. Each career technical education program at UCC has such an advisory board.
“I think it’s always the goal of a community college to support those locally who want to better themselves through education and see that success come full circle,” Saralecos said. “There are jobs in our community in the renewable materials sector.”
Saralecos joined the faculty at UCC in January and will start teaching the renewable materials program when classes start on Sept. 23. Saralecos has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in forestry from the University of Idaho and is a PhD candidate at the University of Montana in Forestry.
The two-year program in Winchester is designed to give students a basic understanding, personalized attention and create as smooth a transition as possible to the four-year college in Corvallis. Saralecos did add that students are free to transfer to a different college, but they would not be able to benefit from the memorandum of understanding the two institutions have.
“Oregon State is the No. 1 college of forestry in the country and the No. 2 college of forestry in the world,” Saralecos said. “If you have an opportunity to work with a partner, work with the best.”
Students who transfer to Oregon State University would be full-fledged juniors after completing the program at UCC.
Umpqua is not the only community college offering a forestry program, similar programs can be found throughout Oregon. It is unclear whether any other two-year institutions are offering renewable materials as a course.
“We all partner with Oregon State, because of that we’re all similar,” Saralecos said. “But beyond that we each have, and will continue to, highlight local areas of importance.”
At Mt. Hood Community College, that means an emphasis on urban forestry. At Central Oregon Community College, an emphasis on wildland fire and federal forest management.
“Roseburg is the timber capital of the world,” Saralecos said. “We are diverse in our forestlands, we are diverse in our forest management agencies locally, we are close enough to the coast, close enough to the mountains to provide our students with a broadened series of experiences over their first two years to put them in the best possible position to succeed at Oregon State.”