The year 2020 presented us with some significant obstacles and challenged us to adapt. After canceling the 2019-2020 Championship event scheduled for April, we began to realize that our in-person fall event season was also in jeopardy. A survey of our teachers showed that none of our pre-registered schools could attend, so rather than canceling the fall event season we made the decision to conduct one statewide virtual event in 2020.
For the focus topic we collaborated with the Usal Redwood Forest Company, which manages forests for the Redwood Forest Foundation, including a 50,000-acre tract in remote Mendocino County called the Usal Forest. This location is too remote to visit during in-person events, so we took the opportunity to give students a forest experience without actually traveling to this forest. We set up the event with five identical week-long sessions that included an online “field” test, virtual office hours, Ask a Forester sessions, and virtual presentations to remote judges via Zoom. Although the students could not get out into the forest, the event was well accepted and went as well as could be expected.
Participation was just over half of what it would be in a typical event season, with 22 schools, 41 teams, and 229 students. Students appreciated the fact that the Forestry Challenge continued in an online format, as is evidenced in their evaluation form responses. The program was made possible with the help of 59 volunteers and our sponsors’ generous financial support.
Congratulations to these top 10 teams (maximum score of 250 points):
|1||233.25||Vista del Lago High School Team 1||Folsom (Sacramento)|
|2||231.75||Foresthill High School Team 1||Foresthill (Placer)|
|3||225.75||Charter Oak High School Team 1||Covina (Los Angeles)|
|4||224.75||Woodside High School Team 2||Woodside (San Mateo)|
|5||222.25||Granada Hills Charter High School||Granada Hills (Los Angeles)|
|6||217.75||Vista del Lago High School Team 5||Folsom (Sacramento)|
|7||215.25||John W. North High School Team 8||Riverside (Riverside)|
|8||207.25||Amador High School||Sutter Creek (Amador)|
|9||201.5||Foresthill High School Team 2||Foresthill (Placer)|
|10||197.0||Citrus Hill High School Team 4||Perris (Riverside)|
Mike De Lasaux, a longtime volunteer who was involved with every session this fall, was named Volunteer of the Year, while Jenny Lucero from Coalinga High School was given the Tom Eustis Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.
In March we will evaluate the feasibility of an in-person invitational event on April 15-17 in Tuolumne County. Regardless, we are hopeful that in-person events will resume in the fall.
Photos from previous events can be found on our Flickr account.