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072422 georgia pacificApproximately 30 Texas teachers and members of the Texas A&M Forest Service tour Georgia-Pacific’s Camden Plywood Plant as part of the ForesTREE Experience. Courtesy photos

From Enterprise Staff

Imagine the smell of fresh cut trees, the sounds of lathes peeling logs and the sight of hundreds of employees working in tandem to produce one of the more recognizable multi-purposed wood panel products used in construction. For a group of Texas teachers it was more than just their imagination—it was a day to remember. As part of the Texas A&M Forestry Service’s ForesTREE Educator Professional Development Program, these statewide educators had the opportunity to get a first-hand look at how plywood is made at Georgia-Pacific’s Camden Plywood Mill.

“It is always an eye-opening experience for our participants when they walk onto the floor of a plywood plant or sawmill,” Conor McInnerney, a forester with the Texas A&M Forest Service, said. “Being able to tour Georgia-Pacific’s Camden Plywood plant was part of a two-day workshop where educators studied the beginning of a forest’s life at stand-establishment to the end of the rotation when trees are turned into consumable wood products.”

The ForesTREE Experience is a cooperative event between the Texas A&M Forest Service and the Texas Forestry Association.

According to Texas A&M Forest Service Conservation Education Coordinator Caroline Cruz, the program serves as a foundation for participating teachers to be certified in Project Learning Tree, an environmental education curriculum that is taught in classrooms throughout the United States and other countries.

“Forests provide us with so much, it’s our duty to give them the spotlight and help our educators teach our young Texans about these amazing renewable ecosystems that clean our water, give wildlife a home, give us places to enjoy and recreate, employ thousands with jobs and a livelihood, and provide us with roofs over our heads and desks in our schools,” Cruz said.

While at the Camden Plywood plant, the teachers began their experience by hearing from plant leaders about the various plywood products and applications. Following a safety training, the group grabbed hard hats and safety goggles and set out on their tour to observe the plywood process. The teachers watched as lathes quickly peeled logs, as lay-up machines combined wood veneers to create a flat sheet, and as plywood was trimmed before strapped for shipping.

“Despite the heat, all of the educators were amazed at the process and walked away with a new appreciation of those who work within the building products industry,” McInnerney said.

The ForesTREE educators will now share their experiences with their students this fall in the classroom where they will incorporate environmental education into their school curriculums.

072422 georgia pacific twoSofia Pinon, Georgia-Pacific Camden Plywood Plant Safety Manager (far right), explains the process of making plywood with teachers (l-r) Cynthia Zapata, Discovery School of Innovation, The Woodlands, and Natalie Pedroza, Laporte ISD, during the ForesTREE Experience.

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