Forestry Techniques

This course introduces the broad range of skills and concepts necessary for work in a farm or homestead scale woodlot, further forestry courses at Sterling, and wilderness trail work (where power-tool use is not allowed). Students fell trees using state of the art techniques for axes and cross-cut saws, and learn how those skills fit within a forest management plan informed by silviculture, ecology, and stewardship ethics. Firewood processing, basic log construction and tool handle hanging add depth to skill development and appreciation of forest products. Wood volume calculations, standings tree measurements, tree species ID, compass and pacing mapping, and sampling layouts provide a practical foundation for forest inventory assessments in work program positions and subsequent classes.

Woodlot Practices

Woodlot Practices provides students the opportunity to implement the College’s forest management plan by harvesting trees using chainsaws. Students learn methods associated with safe tree felling practices, limbing and bucking procedures, chainsaw maintenance, chain sharpening, and assist in extraction procedures using draft horses. In addition to practicing timber harvesting, students investigate selected principles of Silviculture.

First Semester Work Experience

Working Hands. Working Minds.


The First Semester Work Experience pairs reading and discussion with meaningful work experience, to provide students with a foundation in the Sterling Work Program that carefully examines the role that work plays in all aspects of life. Coursework will be split between classroom-based discussion and reflection, and a hands-on introduction to four areas of Work Program essential to the health of our community: the farm, the forest, the kitchen, and administration. Readings and discussions will revolve around our preconceived notions about work, the values we associate with it, and a variety of issues ranging from social justice to environmental and community health that are impacted by those ideas. This course aims to introduce a broad range of tools and skills necessary for students to become valuable members of the Sterling College community both in the classroom and beyond.