Students take part in Forestry Days field trip

Published 11:30 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

More than 300 students from around Harlan County recently took part in the Harlan County Farm Bureau (HCFB) Forestry Days Field Trip at the Pine Mountain Settlement School for a day of fun and education in the school’s rural setting.

According to a news release, the event was held at the Pine Mountain Settlement School from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12. Pine Mountain Settlement School staff, HCFB board members and 320 students from around Harlan County were on hand for the event. The students were educated about many aspects of Harlan County’s vast forests.

“Harlan County is 94% Forest,” the president of Harlan County Farm Bureau Dustin Miniard said. “With timber being one of our largest industries in Harlan County, we feel that we need to educate our students about our forests. Students need to understand Forest Ecology and the importance of Forest Management. Forestry education is money well spent.”

During the field trip, students received information about forest management, wildfires, tree identification, forest ecology, the relationship between forests and streams, and some of the processes used by early settlers using timber to build cabins. The students were additionally instructed on how forests provide clean air, filter water, and provide an environment for wildlife.

High school students also recently benefitted from an HCFB donation of $1,500 to the Harlan County High School Future Farmers of America (FFA).

A statement for HCFB explains the FFA students will use the funds to attend the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“FFA is a dynamic youth organization that changes lives and prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education,” reads the HCFB statement. “FFA develops members’ potential and helps them discover their talent through hands-on experiences, which give members the tools to achieve real-world success.”

Beginning in 2015, the Harlan County High School Initiative was created when the HCFB Education Committee requested the Harlan County Board of Education hire an agriculture teacher. Harlan County Schools now has an agriculture teacher and a modern greenhouse to aid students in agriculture education.

One Harlan County High School student, Claire Sawyers, won the female speech category of the Kentucky Farm Bureau District 11 Outstanding Youth Contest.

The contest was held on Oct. 3 at the Perry County Public Library. Sawyers competed against individuals from six other counties. She won the contest with her speech centered around her family’s involvement in agriculture in Harlan County.

“Claire represented Harlan County well,” said Miniard. “She presented an excellent, enthusiastic speech.”

Thanks to her win, Sawyers will compete in the State Kentucky Farm Bureau Outstanding Youth Contest on Nov. 30 at the Galt House in Louisville.

In other HCFB activity, Apple Tree Farms was recently designated a Legacy Farm by HCFB. The designation was made due to Apple Tree Farms contributions to the local community, involvement in HCFB, and overall long-term commitment to farming.

“The Legacy Farm designation created by Kentucky Farm Bureau is awarded to farm families who have demonstrated a commitment to agriculture and the strengthening of rural communities,” states the release.

Beginning in 1989, Apple Tree Farms has been involved in active production agriculture growing apples. The farm is currently operated by Terry Creech, Gwen Creech, Marcus Creech, and Whitney Creech.

“We want to show farmers across Harlan County that we appreciate their hard work and dedication,” said Miniard. “Without Harlan farmers, we would not be where we are today. Apple Tree Farms is certainly worthy of this designation. Thank you, Apple Tree Farms, for your many years of commitment to Harlan County Farm Bureau and Kentucky agriculture.”