Equipment Training

The first class of new equipment operators was recognized June 29 in a commencement
ceremony at the Alabama Forestry Association’s headquarters in Montgomery. Students were
awarded Professional Logging Manager (PLM) certificate,
American Red Cross CPR/First Aid cards, and diplomas from
the ForestryWorks Workforce Development Program.
“This was a great first class and a very satisfying experience
for me personally,” said school instructor Ray Clifton. “To see
young people with virtually no experience come into the
program, master the classroom material and demonstrate
the ability to quickly learn productive operation of the
machines, was a great experience and an accomplishment at
a higher level than I had expected.”
The class, held in Lafayette, is the first of its kind in the state.
“My only disappointment was that we did not have higher participation,” noted Clifton. “Of the
four students who enrolled only two completed the course. One decided not to attend at the
last minute, while the other was dismissed for failure to follow class rules.”
Still, all indications are that the program will grow and produce what Alabama loggers have
indicated they need: high‐quality, professional operators.
“I think there may be a little misconception by some of the logging community as to what we
are attempting to accomplish
in this program. We did not
design a course to produce a
‘warm body’ to put in a
machine,” Clifton added.
“Our graduates must show a
mastery of PLM material and
safety training (both in the
classroom and in the field), as
well as basic competency in
the machine. We will produce
professionals who are ready
to go to work. I believe we are
training future foremen.”
The first session was made possible by the generosity of several benefactors. Chambers County
logger Jeff “Bodine” Dodgen provided
skidders and allowed students to
practice on both first‐thinning and
clearcut crews. David Crouch, North
American Sales Representative and
Product Support Manager for
MultiDocker was invaluable in helping
teach proper machine operation.
Professor Mathew Smidt (Auburn
University), Kimberly Carter (Chambers
County Development Authority), and
Ken Sealy (Chambers County Vocational and Technical Center Director) were also instrumental
in the success of the program.
The next session of the Logging Equipment Operation
School is scheduled for August 27 – September 29 in
Double Springs. For more information or to register,
please go to or call 334‐703‐
PHOTOS: Page 1, top, Equipment Operator School
student Reed Sanders leads a daily safety meeting. Page 1, bottom, students Jayce Lovelady
and Reed Sanders participate in the
classroom portion of the course.
Page 2, top, Equipment Operator
School Superintendent Ray Clifton
validates the work that students
Jayce Lovelady and Reed Sanders
are doing during the in‐field
instruction phase. Page 2 middle
photo, Clifton points out the task
he wants student Reed Sanders to
perform in the machine. In bottom
photo at left, Clifton watches as
student skids a load of logs to the
loading deck.