Week 15

Junior forestry students listen and look for bird species along the Kentucky River bank.

Week 15

David holding a black kingsnake (Lampropeltis nigra) found at Berea College Forest.

Week 15

A very rare mud salamander (Pseudotriton montanus) found at Berea College Forest.

Week 15

The junior forestry class attends the capstone presentations of the senior class students.

Week 15 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by David Blythe

The final week of spring semester (April 22-25) was spent observing a variety of wildlife in its natural habitat with Dr. John Cox, Dr. Matt Springer, and Dr. Steven Price.

Monday took us out to a farm south of Nicholasville that runs along the Kentucky River. At this farm Dr. John Cox introduced us to the process of birding, locating species of birds by both sight and sound. Understanding the species composition of birds on a given piece of property can be used as a tool by foresters to understand the habitats present on the property.

On Tuesday, we accompanied Dr. Steven Price down to Berea College Forest. There are many herpetological study sites with tin cover boards strewn about the forest floor. We found several species of snakes, salamanders, and frogs. This included a very rare find of an adult mud salamander (Pseudotriton montanus), only the second adult Dr. Price has ever found.

Wednesday’s events mirrored those of Monday, only we changed the bird habitat from a lowland farm site, to the mature forest and ridgetops of Natural Bridge State Park. Dr. Matt Springer led this excursion, helping to identify the intricate calls of the many wood-warbler and vireo bird species in the area.

Spring semester, and the week itself, culminated on Thursday as our junior forestry class attended the senior’s capstone project presentations, followed by a recognition dinner at the E.S. Good Barn on campus. This was an opportunity to both show our support for the seniors, as well as giving us a sense of what is to come in our own senior year.


Week 14

A stegosaur that was left/found on a cedar harvest in Frankfort Kentucky

Week 14

A cut-to-length system on a timber harvest site in hazel, Kentucky.

Week 14

Calvin, Cooper, and Michael on a cut-to-length system.

Week 14

Michael with a skidder in the background that is hauling recently cut logs to the landing.

Week 14 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Michael Ammerman

On the week of April 15 – 19 the junior forestry class was in north central and western Kentucky touring various harvesting sites and a paper mill. On Monday, the students and Dr. Stringer traveled to an eastern red cedar harvest site, where we were accompanied by a wildlife biologist and a Kentucky Department of Forestry silviculturalist, where we learned about best management practices and some social issues involved with the harvest. On Tuesday, we traveled to Hazel, Ky and visited a timber harvest site. At this specific harvest site the employees were using a cut to length system and a loader to bring the skidder. On Wednesday, after departing Pennyrile State Park, we visited with a timber consulted, who gave us information on timber bidding, best management practices, etc. We then proceeded to visit two more harvests that day. On the last day, we traveled to Domtar paper mill where we learned about how paper is made and how a large amount of water and energy is used. They also recycle saw dust into energy to help with their energy needs. This week is important for forestry students, so we can better understand how forest ecosystems are impacted during timber harvest but also how harvests impact the people in the community not only physically but socially. This will help me be a better forestry professional because now I can understand what goes into a harvest and how I can communicate more efficiently with the consultants, landowners, and the loggers.


Week 13

Group picture of the forestry juniors along the Bucklick watershed hike.

Week 13

Class members working on prism plots and collecting data at the mesic cove site.

Week 13

Dr. John Lhotka discussing species site relationships with forestry juniors.

Week 13

Forestry junior Brittany Cook on one of the upland oak sites

Week 13 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Brittany Cook

The Forestry juniors spent the week of April 9-11 at UK’s Robinson Forest. They spent time with Dr. John Lhotka working on silvicultural methods and prescription writing. Monday started out in the classroom for a week overview and review of silvicultural terms. We then watched a movie called “America’s First Forest – Carl Schenck and the Asheville Experiment” and not long after we got out in the field and practiced marking a shelterwood. On Tuesday most of the day was spent hiking Robinson’s Bucklick and Old Cove watersheds while stopping along the way to discuss species and site relationships as well as how the sites related to implications in silviculture. Here we did our first stand evaluation and data collection of the week on a mesic cove site. On Wednesday the day was centered around upland oak forest types, we visited two different sites and worked on data collection and prescription development. Before moving on to the next site the class would engage in a “round table discussion” in the field where we could discuss our ideas for the prescription as well as get immediate feedback. This day was very beneficial to expanding our knowledge on how oak’s regenerate on different quality sites. Thursday morning, we did the same type of stand evaluation but on a Shortleaf/pitch pine site as well as got to practice doing an area-wide thinning. The week was very informative and a great opportunity to learn and build on our silvicultural knowledge.


Week 12

Looking for biota from our control sample to gather data for our experiment.

Week 12

Students using the stream gauge to measure stream velocity as well as other water quality elements.

Week 12

Students record data from a soil pit on a ridge top.

Week 12

Dr. Barton teaches his students about taking biota samples at an intermittent stream in Robinson Forest.

Week 12 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Calvin Hornung

During April 1-4, the spring field semester students had hydrology taught by Dr. Barton along with help from Dr. Claudia Cotton, a forest soil scientist for the U.S. Forest Service, and Andrea Drayer, an ecologist from the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources. We visited many streams and different watersheds in, and nearby, Robinson Forest in Eastern Kentucky. The first day we learned the basics of stream measurements and data collection. We went to 4 streams, 1 intermittent and 3 perennial throughout Robinson Forest and used a variety of methods to record volume. The variety of the streams in their size and watersheds they accounted for led us to establish different strategies for measurement for each one. We also measured water quality elements such as pH, dissolved oxygen and turbidity and how this related to the land uses of the area. This teaches us how land use and size and water quality are interrelated and can help us improve watersheds. The second day we examined 4 different forest soils, 3 on different elevations on Robinson forest and 1 on a reclaimed surface mine. The soils had a clear effect on the vegetation and we learned that the vegetation had an effect on the soils as well. Soils are important for hydrology because water in a watershed passes through the soil before it gets to either the impermeable layer and or a body of water. The third and fourth day we did an experiment with 4 different streams - a control stream at Robinson Forest, a reclaimed streamed, a stream at a surface mined, and a site that was logged. We measured water quality and biota including indicator species such as salamanders. We learned how specific disturbances affect water quality and how actions can be taken to improve it.


Week 11

Dr. Stringer discusses the SMZ project on Robinson Forest with the junior class.

Week 11

Brandon Foley gets hands on experience with a chainsaw.

Week 11

Junior class works up a sweat hand planting seedlings on Robinson Forest.

Week 11

Juniors Danial, Felicia, and Michael practice the hack and squirt method on Robinson Forest

Week 11 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Brandon Foley

We began this week discussing Kentucky Best Management Practices (BMPs) with Dr. Jeff Stringer as part of our training for Kentucky Master Logger program. After our discussion we toured a watershed streamside management zone (SMZ) project conducted on Robinson Forest. The project compared SMZ practices in Kentucky to new practices. Different methods and SMZ widths were tested near streams and how they affected water quality throughout the watershed.

On Tuesday, March 26th, Jim Spangler, Kentucky Master Logger, instructed the class on safety and proper use and techniques associated with the use of chainsaws. Mr. Spangler discussed proper protection equipment (PPE) and the proper operation of chainsaws and their many safety features. The class got hands on experience with maintain the saws and were given the opportunity to practice using chainsaws in the log yard.

On Wednesday, the class was able to travel to West Liberty to tour the Kentucky Division of Forestry Morgan County Nursery. We were able to see the planting beds and equipment used for planting, removing, and storing seedlings that are sold throughout the area.  In the afternoon, the class got their hands dirty hand planting seedling on Robinson Forest in open field conditions and in forested areas. Dr. Stringer instructed the class in the proper use and safety precautions of planting tools. 

Our last day of instruction for this week focused on herbicide and pesticide application in the forestry industry. Dr. Stringer discussed the proper techniques and application of common herbicides used in the area and throughout the industry. The second half of the day the class took the skills we had learned during the week to perform a thinning operation on a small area of Robinson forest. The operation included basal bark, hack and squirt and manual felling operations with chainsaws.


Week 10

Week 10

Week 10

Week 10

Week 10 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Jonah Matulich

For the 10th week of spring field semester Dr. John Lhotka took the class on a trip to the southwestern area of North Carolina. From March 18-22 we were touring and learning about old growth forest, current management on national forests, and the impacts of different treatments within these forests. Starting on Monday we left Lexington, KY and drove to Fontana Dam, NC. To arrive at our destination, we drove on a road colloquially known as the Dragon for the numerous turns it takes. This road is very scenic and very curvy. Tuesday, we left in the morning and explored Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest to see old growth, virgin forest. While there, we measured multiple trees, some being 75.5 inches in diameter and 20 feet in circumference. Wednesday, we met several employees of the Nantahala National Forest. They took us to several sites around the forest and told us what their objectives were, how they sought to achieve them, and how effective their management was. On Thursday, we crossed the North Carolina-Georgia line and met some of the management team for Sarah’s Creek campground area. While there, they also shared their management objectives and outcomes of their management. This trip was useful to see the practical application of our classes, as well as to see potential forestry careers.


Week 9

Cooper Leist points out a coyote track in the snow Dr. Cox and Dr. Springer found in Griffith Woods.

Week 9

Dr. Matthew Springer shows the class a young stand in the Daniel Boone National Forest and explains how this can be beneficial to certain species native to Kentucky.

Week 9

Members of the class herping in a mesic area of Griffith Woods to try to find salamanders.

Week 9

The KY Dept of Fish & Wildlife Resources at the Clay Wildlife Management Area explain how to manage undergrowth in forests to create more light on the ground and promote oak regeneration.

Week 9 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Cooper Leist

From March 4th to March 7th, the forestry juniors traveled around Lexington and elsewhere in Kentucky.  The first day was spent in classrooms at the Thomas Poe Cooper Forestry Building on the University of Kentucky campus learning about wildlife habitat, what we would be learning in the course this week and the next week of wildlife in April as well as the impacts of animals on the environment around them.

The next day we made our way to the southern portion of the Daniel Boone National Forest to take a look at what managing for some different types of wildlife habitat looked like.  By seeing what creating proper water features and alterations to forests to promote habitats looked like, we were able to begin thinking about what kind of management practices were necessary to accomplish the task of promoting wildlife populations in key areas.

A visit around Spindletop Farm on Wednesday showed us some examples of what the University of Kentucky is doing to create both hard and soft edge habitat zones and the way corridors allow different species of animals to move around populated areas and between different ecosystems in Lexington. After this, we made our way to Griffith Woods to learn about tracking, the savannah ecosystems that used to be across the bluegrass region, and about the research being conducted to try to help improve wildlife habitat.

On our final day this week we took a trip to the Clay Wildlife Management Area in Nicholas and Fleming county.  On this trip we learned about fire and timber management practices being used to create quail habitat as well as what a clear-cut logging operation in a WMA may look like.


Week 8

UK Forestry junior, Jacob Murray, holding a slice of the felled chestnut Oak at UK’s Robinson Forest.

Week 8

UK Forestry juniors working with Dr. Jim Ringe and Mr. Chad Niman to figure out the best way to saw the butt log of the felled chestnut oak tree at Robinson Forest.

Week 8

UK Forestry Juniors working with Dr. Jim Ringe and Mr. Chad Niman to scale and grade the lumber sawn from the felled chestnut oak log. UK Robinson Forest.

Week 8

UK Forestry juniors at the Wood Utilization Center in Quicksand, Kentucky learning how to operate different machinery and tools with Dr. James Ringe and Mr. Bobby Ammerman in order to create their own personalized tables.

Week 8 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Jacob Murray

During the week of February 25th – March 1st, the forestry juniors traveled to UK’s Robinson Forest with Dr. Jim Ringe and Mr. Chad Niman. For the first two days of the week the juniors worked with Dr. Ringe and Mr. Niman to measure and grade a standing tree which was to be cut down. Following this, the juniors were tasked with figuring out where to buck the tree after it was felled to get the most merchantable volume out of each different log. After separating the tree into separate logs, the juniors participated in an activity where they helped determine how logs should be sawn to get the best possible boards out of them. Dr. Ringe and Mr. Niman then showed the juniors how to scale and grade lumber and figure out how much a board is worth depending on grade, species and volume.

For the second portion of the week, the juniors were taken to the Wood Utilization Center in Quicksand, Kentucky where they worked with Dr. Ringe and Mr. Bobby Ammerman. During this time the juniors were taught how to use a variety of different machines and tools to create personalized tables out of FAS grade red oak. From doing this the juniors were taught how value is added to wood after it is logged and moved from sawmills to various industry settings. This will help forestry students in their future careers by allowing them to understand the economic relationship between sawmills and industry.  


Week 7

A plot was created by setting two tapes on a fixed radius and correcting for slope adjustment. Trees that were over 5”dbh were recorded for species, height, dbh, and other features.

Week 7

Steven Bloom standing by a huge American beech tree near the east edge of our plot.

Week 7

The cabins at Robinson are quite scenic and provided us warmth during the cold stay during our first week!

Week 7

After collecting data for 21 plots, our group went to the classroom at Robinson to begin entering data into Two-Dog in order to help us measure composition of the stand.

Week 7 - Spring Field Semester

by Steven Bloom

During the week of February 18-22, the Forestry juniors worked with Dr. Contreras as part of the field semester course. At Robinson Forest, groups were each assigned predetermined plots of land to measure and inventory for the course. 

Each day after a quick breakfast at 7AM, groups departed into the forest at 8AM to conduct measurements. This consisted of finding the plot center using the GPS, and creating the fixed-radius plot. Once the plot was created stems that fell within the area were measured for species, height, and dbh if the stem was above 5” dbh. Groups had to measure 7 plots per person within the group, and since our group contained 4 people we measured 28 plots. At around 6PM dinner was served and everyone returned to camp as the sun was inevitably setting each day.

It is important that we learn the skills of measurement because if a landowner required an inventory to be conducted on their land, it is a forester’s job to come up with an accurate estimate as to what the landowner can do with said land. If the land is inaccessible by heavy vehicles, logging may not be the best route and therefore management for wildlife or natural area may be desired by the landowner. Knowing how to inventory land also proves useful for determining how much land is worth with the trees and other resources located on it.


Week 6

Forestry junior, Michael Kessler, carefully measures the diameter at breast height of a tree in the University of Kentucky Arboretum within one of his assigned plots.

Week 6

Forestry junior, Daniel Carr, poses with the list of assigned data analyses for the group’s measurements taken from the Arboretum Woods.

Week 6

Forestry juniors, Jacob Murray and David Blythe record data as Jacob Tucker measures tree height with a laser device in the University of Kentucky Arboretum.

Week 6

Forestry juniors Brandon Foley, Felicia Filarski, Jonah Matulich, standby as Ryan Welleford measures tree height with a laser device within their first plot at the Arboretum Woods.

Week 6 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Daniel Carr

For our sixth week of spring field-semester, (February 11th-15th) we began our forest inventory course under Dr. Marco Contreras. The first day of class we introduced ourselves and reviewed individual tree measurement techniques and the mathematics that explains where they are derived from. Topics covered during lectures included measuring diameter at breast height, measuring tree height with clinometers, correcting for slope, and other essential measurements. After reviewing the basics, several exercises calculating basal area and tree volumes were assigned for getting familiar with using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

During our classroom time, Dr. Contreras revealed that our biggest assignment for his class would be to prepare a timber inventory report for our assigned stand of timber within Robinson Forest during the second week of his class. Our first week of classes were held in the Thomas Poe Cooper computer lab, except for February 14th, when we collected plot data at the Arboretum.  To prepare ourselves for data collection using fixed-area plots in Robinson Forest the following week, we were tasked with collecting tree data from four, 1/10th acre plots in the Arboretum Woods and analyzing the different site attributes.

Being able to accurately measure stand conditions and compose a timber inventory report is one of the most crucial skills a forester must have.  This week’s lessons are some of the most important for our future’s as foresters because every decision a forester makes is based on the parameters of the stand and being unable to correctly measure, analyze, and communicate that information to a landowner is the essence of what foresters do as professionals.


Week 5

Two fellow classmates measuring plot area and determining the regeneration potential of seedling growth and survival within the plot by recording species name and height.

Week 5

Berea Forest - Discussing oak regeneration and the multiple factors involved with effectively altering stand structure so oak trees can establish successfully in the understory.

Week 5

This is a group picture of the Forestry Class taken above an old Civil War site in Madison County, Kentucky.

Week 5

Week 5 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Jacob Tucker

This week was the fifth week of our spring field semester. The week consisted of repeated trips to the Berea Forest located in Rockcastle and Madison counties in Kentucky. Our teacher for this week was Dr. John Lhotka who teaches Silviculture at UK. Last semester we learned Silviculture in the form of lectures. The goal for this semester was to take what we had learned last semester and physically experience and practice it in a real-world setting. Throughout the week, we learned how to assess stands of timber and how to accurately use the tools that are needed to gain different information about the stand including a 10-factor prism, diameter tape, and a Biltmore stick. We also learned the different silvicultural methods that can be generated and applied in order to alter a stand in accordance with the objective set in place. We learned how aspect, topography, soil, and species silvics all play a role in what trees grow where and how well they grow within that area. We learned how to formulate all our findings and suggestions for future improvement of the stands.  We then learned how to communicate that information through a prescription that can be easily understood by landowners for whom we may be working. Understanding how to control the establishment growth and composition of a forest stand to meet landowners’ objectives on a sustainable basis is the heart and soul of forestry and must be understood before one can progress within the field. 


Week 4

Group photo taken at Floracliff Nature Preserve Monday, January 28th just prior to invasive removal.

Week 4

Cooper Leist removing a fairly large specimen of bush honeysuckle at Floracliff Nature Preserve January 28.

Week 4

Checking mushroom spore prints in Dr. Crocker’s lab January 31.

Week 4

Visual inspecting tree health around campus (UK AG North Bldg.) January 31.

Week 4 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Michael Kessler

Week four of spring “field” semester took place from Monday the 28th of January through Thursday the 31st of January with activities occurring on and around campus as well as Floracliff Nature Preserve. The theme for week four of the semester was Forest Health and was led by the newest addition to the forestry department’s faculty, one particularly knowledgeable of the topic, Dr. Ellen Crocker.

Day 1 began with an exercise in defining “forest health” and seeing a great variance of definitions from numerous forestry related professionals. Most of these professionals had agreed that a healthy forest was considered to be a native one, which segued nicely to our trip to Floracliff Nature Preserve. At the Preserve, we assisted in cataloging trees of interest followed by removing several acres of bush honeysuckle with the help of volunteers from various ages and backgrounds.

Day 2 started in the classroom learning about various threats to forest health and speaking with professionals who work on campus or with organizations that work closely with faculty. The day ended in Dr. Crocker’s lab learning about the some of the processes involved in identifying various fungi.

Day 3: Snow Day!

Day 4 was a firehose of information to make up for lost time but did include a walk around some of the campus to inspect and diagnose various health issues impacting trees. This inspection was made even more educational as it was led by Dr. Crocker and a UK forestry alumni/current KDF employee, as well as more winter dendrology practice!


Week 3

Robinson Stave Mill.

Week 3

UK Junior Students waiting for the KTSAF meeting to begin at the Holiday Inn in Nashville, TN.

Week 3

Nashville, TN at the KTSAF Meeting

Week 3 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Felicia Filarski

Week 3 of the field semester the UK Forestry Juniors traveled around Kentucky to tour different wood product industries. Then they went down to Nashville, TN to go to the Kentucky-Tennessee Society of American Foresters (KTSAF) meeting.

The industry tours took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were led by Bobby Ammerman, Chad Niman, and Wednesday Dr. Jeff Stringer joined. Tuesday the students visited Robinson Stave Mill in East Bernstadt, KY, and then went to Somerset Hardwood Flooring in Somerset, KY. Wednesday they went to East Anderson Hardwood in Eubank, KY and then to American Woodmark in Monticello, KY. Going and learning about these places is important, so that the students learn what goes into creating wood products by seeing it first hand and are able to understand what details these industries look for in a tree before buying it.

Thursday and Friday the students were in Nashville, TN for the KTSAF meeting. Their supervisors were Dr. Jeff Stringer, Chad Niman and Dr. Ellen Crocker. At this meeting the students listened to different speeches given by several professionals, such as Damon Hollis speaking about successfully restoring bottomland hardwoods, Andy Norris talking about professional recruiting, and Keisha Hicks talking about gender equality in the workplace. The students were given a great opportunity to network with forestry professionals and some were offered internships. Other students got the chance to get tips and learn more about their specific areas of interest that one wouldn’t receive from just attending college lectures.


Week 1 and 2

Michael Ammerman on the Asbury University Challenge Course.

Week 1 and 2

Ryan Welleford on the Asbury University Challenge Course

Week 1 and 2

UK Forestry Class of May 2020 climbing over The Wall together.

Week 1 and 2

Luke Biscan, UK Forestry alumnus, speaking about consulting forestry.

Week 1 and 2

Project Learning Tree training.

Week 1 and 2 - Spring Field Semester 2019

by Ryan Welleford

UK Forestry third-year undergraduates started their semester by visiting Asbury University’s Challenge Course in Wilmore, KY. Students built camaraderie by climbing low and high rope elements and assisting each other over The Wall. The day after, students received forest measurement tools, a hard hat and vest during a semester overview. In south central Kentucky, students toured a tract with a consulting forester, Luke Biscan. Having the opportunity to speak with a UK alumnus about their career in forestry was incredible. The next day, students went through a Project Learning Tree training led by Laurie Thomas. Project Learning Tree, a renowned environmental education certificate, will serve as an important forestry outreach tool in forestry careers. Students concluded by refreshing forest measurements at The Arboretum and Berea College forests. At the end of the week students attended the American Tree Farm System training conducted by Bob Bauer and Pam Snyder. 


How can we help? 

If you have questions about the UK Forestry program or would like to schedule a visit, let us know.

Contact Laura Lhotka, Forestry Academic Coordinator 859-257-8718, laura.lhotka@uky.edu