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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Undergraduate Education

Use of a Portable Sawmill for Forestry Instruction


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 45 No. 1
    unlockOPEN ACCESS
    Received: Feb 02, 2016
    Accepted: May 17, 2016
    Published: December 20, 2016

    * Corresponding author(s): stovalljp@sfasu.edu
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  1. Matthew McBrooma,
  2. David Kulhavya,
  3. Jeremy Stovall *a and
  4. Ryan Grishama
  1. a Stephen F. Austin State Univ. Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture, Box 6109 SFA Station, Nacogdoches, TX 75962
Core Ideas:
  • Incorporating a sawmill exercise allowed students to develop log scaling and grading solutions.
  • Working in teams led to collaborative problem solving.
  • The sawmill exercise mimics larger-scale practices in industrial facilities.


The Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, TX, has implemented an experiential learning exercise to improve student learning related to the forest products industry. During the week-long sophomore- or junior-level course Harvesting and Processing, forestry students tour multiple wood products facilities such as sawmills. These mills use complex technologies to maximize the lumber produced from each log, and students were having difficulty understanding the underlying concepts. As part of this course beginning in 2012, students began working in teams to estimate the lumber that will be recovered from a log and then actually sawing their own log using a portable sawmill. Since the introduction of this experiential learning project, student comments, instructor observations, and an increase in the mean course grades suggest that the sawmill activity is not only popular among students, it also allows for a fun, competitive, and engaging way to prepare future natural resource managers for their careers.

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