The New Hampshire Department of Education encourages school districts to offer and promote Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs), which, by definition, “provide knowledge and skills through instruction or study outside of the traditional classroom methodology.” Under strict guidelines, ELOs offer credit for all or some of a core course and can include community partnerships such as internships, apprenticeships, private instruction, etc. Pittsfield Middle High School (PMHS) offers many of these non-traditional learning opportunities to their students under the guidance of Anne Banks, ELO Coordinator.

In September 2015, Anne Banks contacted Steve Patten, Program Director at New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA), seeking recommendations for community partners in the forest products industry. At 8:30 am on Thursday, October 22, Steve arrived at PMHS with Jeff Eames, owner of Fort Mountain Companies, Allenstown, N.H. As a prominent NHTOA member, Jeff graciously offered to provide a full day tour of his base facility and field operations to Ms. Banks and Charles Chapman, a 14-year-old student with an interest in heavy equipment and timber harvesting.

After touring the office and maintenance facility in Allenstown, the group visited an active logging site in Epsom, N.H. During the ride, Jeff and Steve answered fielded questions from Charles about everything from chainsaw safety to logging economics. Once arriving at the jobsite, however, the discussion was all about forest management plans enacted by the Fort Mountain foresters, mechanical harvesting equipment, and the various timber products being sorted and loaded on the landing. Charles had an opportunity to try out the seat of a Timberpro feller-buncher before watching it sever trees and place them in piles for the grapple skidders. While one knuckle boom loader was delimbing and slashing logs and pulpwood, another was feeding a whole tree chipper, blowing fuel chips into a 45-foot trailer. When the trailer was full, the group followed the company tractor trailer to Pleasant View Gardens in Loudon, N.H., where the fuel chips will be burned to provide heat and hot water to their expansive facilities.

Arriving back at PMHS in time for the afternoon bus, Charles concluded that the day’s activities were a little overwhelming, but very helpful in narrowing his interests. Anne Banks also commented on the productive nature of the day and the vast array of local career opportunities available within the forest products community.