Senator Susan Collins visited an active logging and teaching site Friday, Aug. 2.
Sen. Collins, along with State Senators Russell Black and Brad Farrin, and State Representati ve Tom Skoffield, met with the 15 community college students enrolled in the Mechanized Logging Operation Program. Sen. Collins greeted each student personally and chatted with them about where they’re from and why they chose this program. “It’s a great program,” she said.
The Mechanized Logging Operation Program began in 2017 as a collaboration between Northern Maine Community College, Eastern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College, the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine and industry partners. Students spend two weeks in a classroom, followed by 10 weeks on site, learning the equipment, timber growth, tree species, and other relevant subjects. The course carries a strong emphasis on safety of all involved.
“Our timber industry is an integral part of our economy and continues to be the primary economic driver of countless rural communities throughout the State of Maine,” Senator Collins said in a press release following the visit. “It was inspiring to meet these young Mainers who are passionate about learning new skills that will propel them on a promising career path and strengthen our state’s forest sector. I’ve always been a huge believer in apprenticeship programs. The Mechanized Logging Operations Program is an excellent example of the type of robust workforce development we need to create and sustain good jobs.”
Logging and timber harvest has been an integral part of Maine’s culture and heritage since the State’s beginnings. Current operators are nearing retirement age, creating a need for younger individuals to learn the trade. The Mechanized Logging Operation Program works with community colleges and high school vocational programs to enroll students. Students are responsible for their housing, food and transportation costs, but tuition and protective gear are provided for free through Maine Quality Centers and Put ME to Work grants.
Senator Collins visited during week four of the on-site training, halfway through the program.