Virtual platform for workforce development

By Logan Wells, Forest Products Specialist

A specific area that has posed a significant challenge for schools has been integrating virtual instruction for Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes. CTE curriculum requires hands-on learning for careers such as woodworking, basic construction, natural resource management and other agriculture fields. The challenge with an online format for CTE is that students miss out on practical, hands-on experience. This is a daunting task for CTE teachers to find lessons that help students understand and practice career skills without the in-person exercises at schools.

During a normal school year, members of the Forest Products Services team would typically answer guest speaking requests at high schools to help raise awareness of careers in the forest products industry. Given virtual learning and safety guidelines (and with the help of digital presentations and videos), our program was able to turn an in-person school presentation into a short set of online videos that explain the process of primary products, such as turning a log into lumber. Despite my own technology limitations, this still is a helpful resource for CTE teachers searching for virtual assignments and activities.  

Screen shot of YouTube videos

Logs to Lumber YouTube videos hosted by the Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education at UW-Stevens Point.

These videos, hosted by the University of Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education, will remain valuable even when districts return to in-person learning. Certainly, a live guest speaker is preferred to a video, but it is our hope that these videos will reach a wider audience across the state. These videos can also help set the stage for students to take part in a mill visit or bring in guest speakers from the industry to focus on specific career skills like the basics of hardwood lumber grading.

Please feel free to check out the Logs to Lumber YouTube videos using the link here. Alternatively, you can search “Logs to Lumber UWSP” in Youtube.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback on these efforts, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Logan Wells, DNR Forest Products Specialist, at 715-490-3587 or Logan.Wells@wisconsin.gov.

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