The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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Woodstock student win Forestry essay contest; Rutland student takes home third

People love Vermont for its distinctive landscape. The patchwork of mountains and river valleys, camps and villages, farms and forests, speaks to a love of nature, community, and self-reliance. That we value these things is clearly visible in our support of farming, but the value of working forests remains a mystery to many. Key organizations want to change that.

Today, the loss of family dairy farms is being paralleled by the closing of sawmills and a decline in forest-based enterprises. Forestland that has, for years, been managed for sawlogs and fuel, is today going unmanaged, or worse, being parcelized and developed in a way that undermines the look and feel of Vermont. It will be up to the next generation of forestland owners, and citizens, and voters, to continue, or reverse, this trend.

Vermonters can, through good forestry, protect the ecological integrity of our forests while harvesting wood in a sustainable way, at the same time maintaining the working landscape and rural culture of the state. Or we can watch it slip away.

In light of this reality, the Vermont Woodlands Association partnered with the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation, the French Foundation and Northern Woodlands magazine to sponsor an essay contest for high school students.

The question addressed by entrants was, "As the next generation of forest stewards, we would like you to tell us, in 600 words or less, why working forests in Vermont are important and how they contribute to the quality of life of all Vermonters."

Organizers were both overwhelmed and heartened by the response, receiving more than sixty essays from students around the state. The team of judges read every essay, often several times, and finally selected the top three entries.

Congratulations to:
.    Kia Amirkiaee from Woodstock Union High School
.    Ben Dillner from North Country Union High School
.    Nicholas Sweet from Rutland High School

The three students who placed first, second, and third will each receive cash prizes to be awarded at the VT Woodlands Association annual meeting on April 6, VTC in Randolph. The winning essay by Kia Amirkiaee will appear in the Northern Woodlands Magazine spring 2013 edition. To read the winning essays please visit

VWA and its co-sponsors would like to thank everyone who participated. "We are very fortunate to have such good land stewards in our next generation," state the partnering organizations.