Forestry Challenge participants bring home third place


Diane Dealey Neill

Science teachers Ann Akey and Alton Lee are the Green Academy teachers who assisted the students during their time in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Cebelli Pfeifer, Co-Editor In Chief

Seven Woodside students participating in The Forestry Challenge brought home third place in competition against 15 high schools from the central valley and coastal regions of California in October.

The Forestry Challenge is an environmentalism-based academic competition in which select high school students spend 3-4 days in the wilderness engaging in rigorous activities surrounding topics like the preservation of wildlife habitats and ecology management.

“Last year we tied for first at this event competing against schools [from] all over the state,” AP/Environmental Science teacher Anne Akey said. “This year, one of Woodside’s teams took third place, so we did pretty well.”

Schools from around the bay area come together to compose research, gather their findings, and present their information in competition with students from other schools.

“Students go out and collect data using the forest; they learn how to consider different aspects of the problem, then present their recommendations in front of the panel of judges,” Akey said. “It’s a lot of fieldwork. It’s a lot of technique and data analysis; it’s very intense.”

This year, the competition took place in the Santa Cruz mountains and revolved around conducting a post-treatment evaluation of the Camp Butano Forest Health Project. This project is focused on restoring an ecological forest system that has been challenged by various effects of climate change.

“We used our data to evaluate how effective the treatment was and predict the future conditions of the treatment,” senior Sierra Pestoni said. “Regarding my future with environmentalism, these tasks have helped me learn to collect data in the field and make predictions, as well as conduct experiments.”

The Forestry challenge is more than a club; it involves the accumulation of knowledge and attending consistent meetings via Green Academy that lead up to the actual event.

“It’s not like one club meeting one hour every week; we manage to squish three entire days together,” Akey said. “It’s a lot of fun, but it is nonstop,”

Climate change is almost always at the forefront of global concern; the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere becomes a bigger issue each year. This makes the need for students to study environmentalism and practice environmental activism much greater.

“If students are interested in pursuing a STEM career or looking for an opportunity to meet new people and create valuable connections and relationships, this is a marvelous event to join,” Pestoni said.

 This is a unique opportunity and learning experience that all students have the ability to participate in. All students need is a desire to learn in an engaging new way, and a love for the study of environmentalism.

“Students apply real-world hands-on concepts and skills, while also being able to appreciate the beauty, power, and wonder of the nature around them,” Pestoni said.