Forestry Builds Faith at Milo

August 01, 2005

Recognizing the members of Rod Bardell's forestry class at Milo Academy is easy. They’re the ones wearing the orange hard hats and the beaming smiles. They enthusiastically explain their projects to all who will listen.

The class became a reality when Rod Bardell, a service forester with the Oregon Department of Forestry, received a grant from the Diack Ecology Education Program. This family grant was established to provide supplies for outdoor education.

Bardell chose Milo Academy because it provides a unique opportunity to conduct field-based forestry observations and laboratory experiments. The school’s property includes 100 acres of forest land and one mile of South Umpqua River frontage, enabling the class to access the field site in 5–10 minutes. Instruction includes tree identification and biology, ecology, soil and water testing, tree measuring, wildlife, and mapping.

The lessons learned have already been put to practical use. The skills in constructing a fire trail as part of fire suppression tactics have been used by two class members working on fire crews. The class not only learns how to identify trees that need to be cut down, but they also cut and stack the downed trees into cords of firewood that will be sold to sponsor mission trips. More than 650 pine, cedar, and cottonwood trees have been planted on the campus grounds. These trees will prevent erosion, provide shade, and filter sediment and bacteria.

The greatest benefit of the class, however, has been in the spiritual lives of the students. In every class, Bardell uses nature to point to the Creator. Every lesson becomes a devotional.

In reflecting upon the 250 trees the class planted along the banks of the South Umpqua River, Rebecca Rodriguez, a senior from White City, Ore., says, “Psalms 1:1–3 compares people who love God’s law to a tree planted next to a river. If we are planted in God, then we, too, will provide many benefits to those around us.”