REGION — Nine Oceanside High School students recently completed the 2023 San Bernardino Forestry Challenge in mid-November at Hume SoCal camp in Green Valley Lake.
The OHS students were among 148 other high school students from 17 schools throughout Southern California at the camp from Nov. 15 to 18 in the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Forestry Challenge is an academic event for high school students that focuses on technical forestry and current forestry topics. Participants spend four days in the forest learning about the ecology and management of forested landscapes that provide communities with water, recreational opportunities, wood products and wildlife habitat.
According to the Forestry Challenge’s website, youth who participate benefit by better understanding the relationship between the environment and their community, learn about natural resource management as a potential career option, and undertake a timely, “rigorous critical thinking exercise” that addresses current forestry topics such as wildfire, insects and forest health.
“The Forestry Challenge offers our students a chance to use nature as their classroom,” said OHS Teacher Juan Hernandez. “They are able to collect data and analyze it to offer solutions to real issues. It’s an amazing opportunity for students to put their skills to work for real problem.”
One of this year’s highlights for students was the opportunity to do a post-treatment assessment of the Upper Little Bear Mountain Club Fuel Reduction Project. Students collected data on a recently treated, undeveloped forest area owned by the community and will determined if the treatment met the project objectives.
Student teams also completed a field test to assess their technical forestry knowledge and data collecting skills during the challenge.
Alondra Mendoza Carballo, an OHS senior, said the challenge taught her some “valuable lessons” and a newfound appreciation for nature.
“If I didn’t come, I would never have experienced the reality of the forest,” she said. “Sometimes we’re blinded by what we believe and don’t see the value of science and forestry management until we participate in something like this.”