Week 15

Taken during Monday’s Zoom lecture, Dr. Cox was discussing live capture and more invasive survey methods.

Week 15 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Megan Robertson

Week 15 started off on Zoom with Dr. John Cox recapping some key points learned earlier in the semester and dove in deeper on how to identify wildlife based on tracks and scat. The main thing we were discussing was how to assess and inventory wildlife, including invasive and noninvasive methods. We also learned about bird count points and an assignment was given to compare tree plots and bird count data. Learning different tracks and how to inventory wildlife will help us especially if our career takes us in a wildlife directive. However, learning how to identify tracks is something that is never a bad skill to have either, and we can get a glimpse on what species is in the forest when we walk through it casually.

Tuesday, Dr. Steve Price took over our Zoom learning and while some of us were introduced to identifying native reptiles and amphibians, some of us got to refresh our knowledge from the Wildlife course this past fall. We also went over some key habitat components for salamanders and reptiles, how different wetlands effect amphibian life, and minimizing soil disturbance for some reptiles and amphibians. We also discussed herbicides and making sure they’re used correctly so they don’t damage habitat to these animals. This is important to grasp because we want to make sure in our careers we can do everything we possibly can to protect the wildlife we have grown to love. 

Wednesday was a study day, leading up to Thursday as our first and last assessment for the semester. As this was the final week for the “field” spring semester, and being juniors we were able to attend the seniors’ capstone project via Zoom. This allowed us to support the seniors and gave us an insight on what we should expect next year, when we do the same thing.


Week 14

Using a feller buncher with a "hot head" makes for efficient regen cuts opening up large areas to direct sunlight. Photo/text: Dr. Jeffrey Stringer

Week 14

A processor will limb and buck in addition to cutting, but is not recommended for high quality hardwoods due to possible bark damage. Photo/text: Dr. Jeffrey Stringer

Week 14

Processors can mark log pile locations with GPS for pick up by forwarders, reducing skidding damage. Photo/text: Dr. Jeffrey Stringer

Week 14

One example of four treatments designed to measure logging impact on sediment flow into rivers and streams. Figure/research: Dr. Jeffrey Stringer

Week 14 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Michael Rich

Dr. Jeffrey Stringer instructed our field semester group of 12 students using a combination of Zoom meetings, YouTube and other videos, PowerPoints, and downloadable booklets of information to teach this (first ever!) online “field semester” course on forestry operations.

The course consisted of four parts: herbicide application and understanding herbicide labels, timber harvesting (manual and mechanical), BMP’s for water quality, and correct techniques for planting hardwood and softwood tree seedlings. We also covered invasive species control.

The section on herbicide labels and application covered most techniques used in silviculture such as hack and squirt, basal bark, cut stump, in addition to terms such as site prep, cleaning and liberation. Personally, I had never heard of “chemical mowing” before, but was interested to learn of its use in the Christmas tree business. Students completed exercises that required reading labels for information on application rates, mixing, appropriate PPE, and human toxicity.

The section on timber harvesting covered a number of implements and machines used in mechanical harvesting. Dr. Stringer emphasized the importance of timber harvesting as a silvicultural tool, and using the harvest as on opportunity to ensure an improved future timber stand. We discussed the appropriateness of different types of equipment and cutting heads for regen and selective cuts, as well as for softwoods and high-quality hardwoods. We watched 18 videos (!) showing different types of equipment, from chainsaw and horse logging to processors, forwarders and yarders. Techniques for reducing damage to the residual forest was also covered, and Dr. Stringer presented his research showing that the skill and knowledge of the logger was the most important factor in reducing damage from a timber harvest.

BMP’s for water quality is usually taught over 3 days for the Master Loggers certificate, so we hit this one-day presentation hard, and completed an assignment dealing with three different logging scenarios by employing the Kentucky Logging BMP Field Guide. Perhaps the most fascinating part of working through this exercise was using the Water Maps website linked on Kentucky Master Logger website which showed classification of important Kentucky waterways including cold aquatic habitats and outstanding resource waters where loggers need to pay particular attention to SMZ rules. Dr. Stringer presented research showing the importance of focusing BMP’s on skid trails close to water and protecting ephemeral stream crossings.

Finally, Dr. Stringer showed us how to prepare seedlings for planting, including assessing root/shoot ratios, use of different hand tools for seedling planting, and how to avoid air pockets and transplant shock. Although many of us are schooled in the importance of not burying trees like fence posts, Dr. Stringer also made the important point that planting seedlings too shallow is usually worse than too deep.

Although we were disappointed that we could not visit actual logging sites and visit parts of Kentucky that many of us are unfamiliar with, we were able to cover a lot of material that will serve as a good foundation for when we are able to return to the field. The takeaway from this week is that “harvesting influences the woods the most from a silvicultural standpoint.” So, understanding herbicide use, different types of equipment, BMP’s for water quality, and artificial and natural regeneration plays a key role in silvicultural practice and reflects our skills as good forest stewards.


Week 13

Example of one of the prescription assignments for Dr. Lhotka’s FOR 358 class.

Week 13

Video from the US Forest Service Southern Research Station Experimental Forest Upland Hardwood Workshop. This video was on the disturbance history of the Southern Appalachians.

Week 13 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Joshua Sexton

On the week of April 13th through the 16th, we learned more about silvicultural practices from Dr. John Lhotka. Because of the recent threat regarding Covid-19 in our communities, our classes have been moved online and we have been conducting meetings with our instructors over the Zoom app. While we were not able to practice or see what we learned in the field, we still learned about a variety of topics including stand management and different types of regeneration methods.

During this week we had a few different videos we watched each day regarding different topics. For instance, on Monday we learned about the disturbance history of the Southern Appalachians as well as how to classify a forest site and about forest gradients. At the end of the day, we had to answer a series of questions regarding what we learned. During the course of the week, we also had to fill out three mock silvicultural prescriptions for three different types of stands, which included a pine-oak site, a white oak dominated site, and a mixed cove hardwood site. These activities are important for a forestry student as they teach us how different sites can produce different results, and the best methods for ensuring the growth of a desired species. This week helped to prepare us for a career in forestry by teaching us how impacts on a site can lead to a change in the ecosystem, and how we can control and preserve our native forests.


Week 12

Dr. Barton teaching via Zoom.

Week 12 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Andrew Sawyer

This week of the spring field semester we learned about forest soils and hydrology from Dr. Chris Barton. This took place on Monday, April 6th through Friday, April 10th. Due to the current circumstances with classes being online for the rest of the semester we had our virtual classes take place over Zoom. While we weren’t able to be in Robinson forest this week it was still very interesting to be able to apply what we learned during lecture to more urban locations.

Over the week, we have looked at videos and maps to learn about soils and watersheds. It is important to consider all aspects of hydrology from the soil and groundwater to the water in the atmosphere. We had assignments that required us to use maps to look at soils and watersheds in Robinson Forest and around us. The activities that we did during this time of social isolation required us to assess the biosphere, hydrosphere, pedosphere, and atmosphere of local sites. These activities are a valuable part of our education as a forestry student because forest soil and hydrology is very important for knowing what can grow on any given site. It is also vital to know how the different components of a site are interacting with each other. The activities this week helped prepare us for a career as a forestry professional by giving us a further understanding of how a forest works in relation to the soils and hydrology.


Week 11 - Canceled

Week 10 - Canceled


Week 9

Week 9

Week 9

Week 9 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Thomas Mounts

This week, we spent time learning about wildlife in its natural habitat, in recovering natural habitat, and in urban areas. We spent time with Dr. John Cox and Dr. Matthew Springer studying wildlife habitat, how man has changed those areas, and how wildlife has adapted to these changes. We went to a farm located in northern Fayette County, a Wildlife Management Area in northern Kentucky, and Robinson Forest.

This week's activities helped us gain a better understanding and appreciation of wildlife. We spend a lot of time focusing on the management and production of trees, but this week we learned how that ties into wildlife.


Week 8

Bobby Ammerman shows Garrett Hufana the proper techniques to run a ripsaw.

Week 8

A few of my fellow classmates sanding down the aprons for our soon to be built tables.

Week 8

At the end of the day, we finally assembled our tables to produce a high quality, red oak table.

Week 8

Chad Niman demonstrates how to utilize the wood-mizer by cutting a chestnut oak, felled at Robinson Forest.

Week 8 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Kayla Marshall

During this week the forestry juniors, along with Dr. Ringe and Mr. Niman, traveled to Robinson Forest from March 2 - March 6, 2020. This week was primarily focused on forest operations and utilization. On the first day, our class traveled to the fire tower at Robinson Forest and to grade and fell a chestnut oak tree. We talked on the importance of grading a standing log along with grading flat sawn timber. On day two we were able to observe the wood-mizer and how it is used in forest operations. On this day we also were able to create a scenario of how a log is bought and processed. In this scenario there were “buyers” and “sellers” and we were able to understand how the log is priced based on the grade.

The last few days were spent at the Robinson Wood Center to see the process of lumber being turned into a wood product. With the help of Bobby Ammerman, we were given the opportunity to build our own tables out of high-grade red oak. Bobby demonstrated how to use a variety of machines including a crosscut, ripsaw, planer, glue reel, DET, sander, moulder, and a drill press. We discussed the concept of “value added” and how high-quality logs translate into higher quality lumber and wood products. This is tremendously important in forestry because we as foresters are responsible for growing trees that are high in grade and free of blemishes. Forestry and the use of silvicultural practices are imperative to producing high quality wood products in a way that is sustainable and beneficial for our forest ecosystems.


Week 7

While measuring the DBH of a tree within our plot, I spot a Red Spotted Newt.

Week 7

Walking across a log to our next plot. Many of our plots involved crossing streams and steep slope.

Week 7

Using a tape to measure out our pace after we corrected for slope.

Week 7

Photo of Kiernan and Mike

Week 7 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Garrett Hufana

This week involved instruction from Dr. Darryl Cremeans. On February 24th we did a preliminary timber cruise of the watershed near the camp of Robinson Forest. All of our activities took place here for the week. The next day marked the start of taking plots. Each group was assigned 21 plots each 1/10th of an acre. It took three days to finish our timber cruise. The first day of our timber cruise was our most difficult, the slopes were steep and there was a learning curve for us to overcome. We ended that day with a 45-minute walk down a ledge through a dense grove of Devils Walking Stick. The next day was much better. We were able to move at a faster pace through easier terrain.

The activities of the week are important because they give you an estimate of how much your forest holds in value. The preliminary cruise is important because it helps you determine how many sample plots you need to take. It can save you time and money, by preventing you from over sampling the area. These activities help us prepare for a career in forestry because it gives us field experience. Not everyone likes to go hiking in the woods all day measuring trees. This could be an eye opening experience for some students by giving them insight on the various aspects forestry profession.


Week 6

Classroom instruction

Week 6 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Dustan Jones

The week of February 17th -20th 2020, Dr. Darryl Cremeans taught us how to collect forest inventory data in order to prepare a forest inventory report. Forest inventory reports are needed to manage forests and natural resources. We were taught what kind of measurements are needed when collecting data measurements in the forest. We learned how to locate sampling areas by using mapping and navigation procedures. We were taught how to conduct forest inventories and how to develop inventory reports.

We began, in the classroom, reviewing the purpose and importance of forest inventory, timber surveys, and cruises. Linear measurements and statistical methods used in surveying property were reviewed. We practiced exercises using linear measurement and trigonometric methods.

We learned how property boundaries are described. Metes and bounds, and US public land surveys were described. We learned how azimuths and bearings are used to determine what direction you are facing. We learned about surveying using chains and measuring distances pacing with the use of a compass. We also learned about magnetic declination. Ours is 6.5 degrees.

We learned fixed plot and variable plot sampling. We learned how to determine the size of plot needed, boundary plotting, and the use of walk through plots. We reviewed measuring tree diameters. We learned how to grade and cull trees in order to determine their worth. We went outside and used Biltmore sticks and pacing to measure tree diameters and heights.

At the end of the week we practiced making maps with GSI on the computers. We made poly dot maps using plot determination.       

The activities of this week were crucial to prepare us for our forestry career. This week took previous information we learned and showed us how to use it in order to develop a forest inventory report. This is a systematic collection of data on the forestry resources within a given area. This report can then be used for strategic and management planning.


Week 5

Interesting mushroom found on Tuesday’s hike.

Week 5

Dr. Lhotka answering questions about a recently opened stand we visited on Thursday.

Week 5

A stove that survived a fire that had destroyed a homestead in that spot.

Week 5

Dr. Lhotka is talking about a particular research plot in a very marshy cove/bottomlands type area.

Week 5 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by John Fitch

This week the forestry class and Dr. John Lhotka headed out to Berea Forest. This week was about silvicultural practices, including when and where to do them as well as what the resulting stand looks like. On the first day, we looked at a stand of regenerating poplars. On Tuesday, we took measurements of regenerating oaks after a shelterwood cut had taken place, then drove nearby and hiked as we mapped where different trees were on a topographical map. Wednesday morning, we put the measurements into a program that helps tell what needs to be managed. Afterwards, we took a quick trip to Berea to hike. On Thursday morning, we marked trees that we would take in an initial cutting for an oak shelterwood prescription. We ended the week looking at research plots cut across the forest. The activities of this week were all based on visiting sites of regeneration that had happened after various cuttings, or what would happen if a cutting was done. These are important to learn as a forester, because knowing what a cutting will look like after it is done, as well as learning how to read what will regenerate after a cutting would be taken. These help us to prepare for a career as a forester because cutting is one of the most important tools a forester has to change how a forest will look. It is important that we understand what a cutting can do to the woods, and this week illustrated such very well.


Week 4

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary - Forest with an understory overrun by honeysuckle

Week 4

Forestry junior, Kiernan Comer, helping to eradicate honeysuckle from the sanctuary. Loppers and handsaws were utilized to cut the stems of the invaders.

Week 4

Kentucky Forest Health Conference

Week 4 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Josh DeHaan

The fourth week of the junior field semester was an introductory course to the topic of Forest Health, taught by Dr. Ellen Crocker. Multiple guest speakers made appearances to help further our understanding of a variety of different subjects, including pathogens, urban stressors, and non-native species, etc. On Monday, we were given a broad overview of the subject of forest health, and many topics were covered. After lunch, we traveled to Raven Run Nature Sanctuary where we assisted in removing a large amount of honeysuckle from a wooded area near the main road. At the end of the day, we split into groups and decided on a topic for a poster (laurel wilt) about a plant disease affecting Kentucky’s trees. On Tuesday, our discussion of the effects of invasive species on forest health continued, as did our work on researching information on our poster for laurel wilt. We worked together in the computer lab to research the necessary information required to make people aware of the disease in poster format. On Wednesday, we learned about different factors that can put stressors on urban trees, as well as why it is a good idea to actively manage trees in an urban setting. On Thursday, our class attended the Kentucky Forest Health Conference. We helped with set up and registration in the morning and were on deck throughout the day to provide assistance wherever necessary. We also learned about a great deal about the issues presently facing Kentucky’s forests.


Week 3

Addison Conway after the UK team wins the Quiz Bowl between UK, Univ. of Tennessee, and Sewanee. The trophy stays with the winner for one year until the next meeting.

Week 3

Patterson Chip in Corbin KY.

Week 3

Chaney Lumber Co. Inc. in London KY.

Week 3 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Addison Conway

The University of Kentucky Junior class went on industry tours the week of January 27th to January 31st. On Tuesday, the class visited Robinson Stave Mill & Barrel Facility. This facility has the capability of turning white oak logs into barrels on site. Chaney Lumber Co., which dries lumber for customers around the state, and Patterson Chip Company, which is a multi-faceted business that sells wood chips, sawdust, bark, and railroad ties. They also sell machinery such as wood chippers, knuckle booms, and tractor trailers. On Wednesday, the class visited Tarter Gate to tour their timber cutting and sawmill operation. Later in the day the class visited Woodcraft Industries. One of Woodcraft Industries most popular products is components for kitchen cabinets. Thursday and Friday, the class stayed in Bowling Green, Kentucky to attend the KTSAF meeting. At the meeting, students attended thirty minute presentations about problems and solutions facing Kentucky and Tennessee and their wood industry as a whole. We learned through the week what some of the different products made from wood in Kentucky are and how important foresters are to the companies that need wood. This week prepared the Junior class for our careers in forestry by giving us the opportunity to link with professional at the KTSAF meeting along with seeing how important our knowledge and understanding of our forest systems are. In addition to attending the KTSAF meeting, the University of Kentucky won the annual quiz bowl between UK, University of Tennessee, and Sewanee.


Week 1 and Week 2

Forestry Juniors after team-building at Asbury University.

Week 1 and Week 2

Students sitting on felled white oak tree at Berea College.

Week 1 and Week 2

Felled white oak is hauled by Suffolk Punch Draft horses, Willow and Holly, at Berea College.

Week 1 and Week 2

Students travel by van to Berea College. Photo of Kiernan Comer.

Week 1 and 2 - Spring Field Semester 2020

by Kiernan Comer

After much anticipation, spring semester began for UK Forestry Juniors as they visited the challenge course at Asbury University. The twelve students worked as a team to solve elements and reflect on the meaning of collaboration with one another. The next morning, students met in the conference room of the Thomas Poe Cooper building to receive their personal gear for the semester. This included diameter tape, hard hat, Biltmore stick, cruising vest, and more.

After a long weekend, students were eager to continue their studies with training from Doug McLaren, retired employee and longtime friend of the Forestry and Natural Resources Department, and Laurie Thomas, Extension Forester, for training in Project Learning Tree. The program is designed to enrich environmental education with nearly one hundred activities that appeal to all ages, learning styles, and backgrounds. Each student received their own copy of the activity book and facilitated an activity of their choosing within small groups of their fellow classmates. Through exposure to the program, guidance from their instructors, and the opportunity to lead their own activity, students are well on their way to providing accessible environmental education to the public.

Following these events was a two-day refresher on forest measurements led by Dr. Jim Ringe and Dr. John Lhotka. Students reviewed the use of Biltmore sticks, prisms, diameter tape, and various low-tech and high-tech methods of tree measurement in the UK Arboretum and the Berea College Forest. After review, students enjoyed a demonstration of horse logging by John Hite III of the Berea College Forestry Department. The demonstration showed students how horses could be trained to minimize the environmental impact of logging in particular settings. Following these courses, students should have a greater understanding of their equipment and how it can be used efficiently in conjunction with the members of their team.

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