The University of Tennessee Forestry Club was excited to host the 63rd Association of Southern Forestry Clubs (ASFC) Conclave March 17th through the 20th after a two-year postponement related to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Conclave is normally an annual gathering involving 200+ students from 14 southern forestry schools competing in 14 physical and 8 technical events. Physical events range from pole climbing to crosscut sawing and technical events include compass and pacing, tree identification, and wood technology.
A number of generous donors had already supplied funding, materials, and in-kind support when Conclave had to be canceled in March of 2020. The UT Forestry Club members were able to hang on to those resources over the past two years and put them to good use this year. One hundred and fifty students, 18 faculty advisors, and several sponsors, friends, and family attended the Conclave, which was held at the Clyde York 4-H Center near Crossville, TN. Most of the students attending had never been to a conclave and attendee numbers were down a bit from previous years. The UT team and many others are in a building phase after two years of limited face to face activities and travel.
Despite a somewhat smaller crowd, there was no lack of team spirit, good-natured rivalry, and teams willing to cheer each other on. Terry Baker, CEO of the Society of American Foresters, and David Arnold, Tennessee State Forester, were on hand to welcome everyone, and there were multiple opportunities for students to network with forestry professionals, faculty, and peers. Forestry Club officers Carson Parham, Kayla Stuart, Kyle Hanners, Quinn Forney, and advisor Dr. David Buckley were able to make the most of a small UT team in terms of scheduling people to set up the events, serve food in the dining hall, and supply the competition wood, tools, and other items required for each event.
Although they were unable to field a full-size team, the UT students competed in as many events as possible. Their strong work ethic and competitive spirit were rewarded when they won the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. Receiving this award is a special honor as the recipient school is selected by a vote of all the forestry club presidents. After having the chance to experience some of the events this year, the UT students are highly motivated to recruit a full-size team for next year.
Stephen F. Austin State University took first place overall, NC State placed second, and Clemson placed third. Louisiana Tech is scheduled to host the 64th ASFC Conclave in 2023. The UT students hope that the momentum gained from hosting this year’s Conclave will provide Louisiana Tech with additional traction in promoting and sustaining all the positive energy, teamwork, and traditions associated with this event.
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