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College of Forestry

Departments    Forest Engineering, Resources & Management | Forest Ecosystems & Society | Wood Science & Engineering

The 1970's: Conservation and Inflation Era

by Donna Byne, '80

ALTHOUGH PLAGUED by rising inflation, the 70's era was full of excellent and diverse learning opportunities. The calm after the Vietnam War, the growing faculty, diversity of course offerings and benefits of recent research efforts -- as well as the variety of potential employers -- were all factors in the increasing richness of forestry education. Many forestry issues became essentially political in nature, and more potential topics for term papers were available than ever before.

Students in the 70's took forestry classes in newly built Peavy Hall. With its open courtyard, heavy doors, interesting architecture and tasteful landscaping, Peavy is considered by many to be the most attractive building on the OSU campus. It provides students with space for classes and group meetings, drafting tables, calculators, computers and the Self-Learning Center (SLC). Because of its location, Peavy Hall has given a whole new meaning to the expression "cross campus classes." Classes were often way across campus, so many students learned to dash madly out the door the instant class was over.

For the most part students spent a great deal of time in Peavy Hall -- it wasn't uncommon to hear them speaking of living there. The Self-Learning Center (SLC) had probably played a contributing role in developing this attitude. Required readings, stereoscopes, dendrology slide tapes and Reiker mounts, and exam files all help lure students into the SLC. The individualization of many courses has made the SLC an ideal place to work on unit assignments, and many unit quizzes are administered through the SLC. Most students in the 70's spent considerable time in this well-equipped and innovative facility.

BESIDES PUTTING in long hours in Peavy Hall and the SLC, students also spent much time in the School Forest (at least so it seemed). Probably this was nothing new, but the number of university vans leaving the lower parking lot on any given afternoon has probably increased greatly since earlier days.

To simplify the life of the student, pocket calculators have taken over. These no longer are just for fanatical math majors; they are nearly a necessity for forestry students, as well. Although calculators don't always clarify engineering or economics problems, they can impart a sort of business-like feeling to the student and make him or her feel in control of the situation.

The number of women has increased greatly. Although still outnumbered, women aren't nearly as alone in forestry as they once were. No doubt the influx of women into the school has broadened the perspectives of many young foresters.

It seems that each year the forestry curricula have become broader and more stimulating. Some of the recently added requirements for forest management majors include an organic chemistry course, a forest fire management course, a course in natural resource policy and a wider selection of courses from more departments to fulfill the Personnel Management requirement.

THE POLITICAL science course was introduced because the forestry profession has become increasingly political in nature. It no longer suffices to merely be a forester; now it's also necessary to convince everyone else -- people -- that your's being a forester in the best possible way. Many special interest groups have directed public attention to issues such as herbicide use, size of clearcuts and allocations of land for wilderness. These issues have frequently come before the state legislature and/or received national attention.

The wilderness issue has been the subject of many arguments and of many fiii papers. Generally, demand for wood products has continued, which means that in certain areas the growing and harvesting for forests is economically profitable to many people. However, as populations increase the availability of untouched wilderness lands also takes on increasing importance for ever greater numbers of people.

Thus the wood products industry and "special interest" groups confront each other in a basic political situation. For this reason, the importance of learning clear communication skills and of acquiring a certain degree of political savvy has been emphasized to students not only in daily classes but also at student night banquets of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) and even at the 1980 Fernhopper banquet. In addition, the Forestry Curriculum and the Political Science faculty have worked together in developing the course in Natural Resource Policy.

MUCH MORE so than do students in other professions, forestry students tend to become good friends with their professors. Profs are frequently referred to by their first names, and many students are on a first name basis with their professors. Compare this to German forestry schools, where professors are addressed as "Professor-Doctor so-and-so." Some faculty members have even been seen at such wild events as Forestry Club dances. Students are not only close to the faculty, but also to each other. Long hours in the field and in Peavy Hall develop a camaraderie among students found in only a few other schools. Extracurricular activities such as the Fall Frost, Spring Thaw, Dead Week coffee breaks and intramural sports also helped bring forestry students together.

Job opportunities for forests are now more varied than ever before. Fewer and fewer forestry students will become forest rangers or go to work for the U.S. Forest Service (although the Forest Service is still a big employer.) Private industries now hire students for summer and permanent positions. A new twist to the job scene is the German work-exchange program through which a few students are employed in forestry in the Federal Republic of Germany for the summer, and, reciprocally, a few German students are lined up with summer jobs in Oregon.

Besides providing interesting practical experience, summer jobs help provide next year's tuition. The 70's have not been without inflation, and education has kept pace. Fortunately, a relatively large number of scholarships is available. these are very helpful to the student recipients. Also, cooperative education programs (work for six months, study for six months) help ease the burden.

WHILE THE NUMBER of students has grown, individualized assistance is still available in the School of Forestry. The 70's saw the creation of the new Forest Science Department, which helped enrich the already broad research base of the school. the department of Resource Recreation Management has grown considerably during the 70's, so that the student body now represents a wider range of perspectives on many phases of the forestry profession.

Reflecting on my years at Oregon State (1975-1980) the word that summarizes my experience most strongly is camaraderie. Even though I also had a cross-campus major, long hours in Peavy Hall along with the extracurricular forestry activities -- Forestry Club, Xi Sigma Pi, SAF and the opportunity to become involved in Fernhopper Day -- gave me the feeling that I was indeed part of the School of Forestry.