MARION, SC (WBTW) Teachers from all across the state of South Carolina are participating in a five-day forestry tour in the Pee Dee.
The Forestry Association of South Carolina along with the South Carolina Project Learning Tree program organized the tour. Its been put on for 22 years with a mission of showing teachers the impact forests have on the environment and economy.
“We’re just trying to get them to walk away with that positivity that forestry is not negative. This is not deforestation. This is sustainable forest management happening. We’re creating habitat, goods, and services and we do this all over the place,” said Emily Oakman, Forestry Association of South Carolina.
Eighteen teachers are participating in the tour this year. Their days are filled with visiting tree farms, state forests, private mills and more.
One teacher from Clarendon County told News13 why he wanted to participate.
“It was important for me to get kind of a first-hand experience with it and just to see what the industry needs from me to develop and teach students to help them become productive citizens when they get out into the workforce,” said Alonzo McDonald.
He teaches at Manning High School. McDonald, along with the other teachers, will earn three hours of non-degree graduate credits from the College of Charleston for participating in the tour. They will also receive a certification from the Project Learning Tree environmental education program.
Oakman said one goal they have with the tour is to remove negative stigmas and help people realize how forestry affects everyday life.
“A lot of the wood that they grow here and sell here, they bring to the local mills which affects the local jobs, effects the local economy and that’s kind of how this whole thing works. It really is a give and take from a local area type of environment,” Oakman added.
Each summer the association hosts the tour. This year, the teachers are staying in Hartsville. Although they just started on Monday, McDonald said he’s already learned a lot.
“A lot of people look at forestry and think ‘oh, they are just taking the trees down and not doing anything’ but understanding that hey it’s bringing back more to the area and that these resources are renewable,” he said.
Teachers interested in participating in next year’s tour can apply online after the 2019 tour is over. The application is 150 dollars.