76th Annual Intermountain Logging Conference

Maribeau Park Hotel
Spokane Valley, Washington

by Mike Crouse

The largest turnout in nearly a decade was present at the76TH Annual Intermountain Logging Conference held at the Maribeau Park Hotel and Convention Center in Spokane Valley, Washington. The three-day conference had a very ambitious schedule leading off with technical sessions prior to the conference’s official opening ceremonies following lunch on Thursday and gave ample time for attendees both to participate in the program sessions and visit both inside and outside vendors..

Wednesday morning’s technical sessions included presentations from Triple W Equipment’s Bill Jones, and Western States/Caterpillar presentor Mike Dickenson.

The ceremonial sledge hammer, wielded by Conference President, Bob Danielson, (Danielson Logging, St. Maries, Idaho) promptly at 1:30.
The conferences opening Keynote speaker was Bruce Vincent whose message political activism included the 10 reason’s why there is hope for the next generation that’s worth repeating:

10. Trees grow
9. Public facing fire and smoke of ‘natural’ regimes... its now working itself out on the ground
8. We have remained engaged in the dialogue... what we can do to achieve the forest
7. Education and technology for logging systems improved
6. past detractors are trying to resurrect infrastructure...
5. Social media is avenue of communication... will be transformative for rural areas... it will change things
4. equal access to justice reform is being discussed... its hitting much broader than just timber now... there are a lot of friends in this discussion
3. Society is ‘intrigued’ by us... They want to see us.
2. Allies and macro-economics on our side..We’re Not coming out of this recession and people are starting to figure it out.
1. YOU ARE STILL HERE.... There’s a today, its worth celebrating you made it to this point.

In closing he again encouraged those of us in the natural resource industries to get involved in the Provider Pals Program to introduce the “human being part of our business” to school aged youth in the school system.(http://www.providerpals.com/)

The afternoon’s keynote speaker was Ron Nilson, President of Ground Force Worldwide, whose company manufactures specialized mining machinery and is headquartered in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who found he was not the only manufacturer having a difficult time finding a trained and capable workforce to staff their plants. His criticism, and solution, was for the education community, from high schools to colleges, to recognize and adjust to the demands of the job market for beyond a college degree. “Colleges need to understand there’s a a career path for academics and an entirely different career path for technical,” Nilson said. The start of this realization needs to come from government.

Understand government does not create jobs,” he said. “Business creates jobs.” The he drove home his point, “College and work-readiness are NOT the same. A skilled and trained work force needs to be work-ready!” which means they need the background and training too fill those job needs present in today’s world.

The answer in Idaho was a consortium of businesses forming KTec, an alternative school with an alternative curriculum that readies those students who are technology and vocationally oriented for real jobs available and wiating for prepared workers today.

The program he’s established has helped young people who were lost in the “one-size-fits-all” education programs aimed towards college, and provided a fresh opportunity to not only fill the students needs, but business’s needs as well.

The remainder of the programs were filled with panelist presentations on: Perspectives; Getting the Younger Generation Plugged in Again; and Managing our Forests, Better for our Communities. In addition there were breakout sessions on: Communicating with the Next Generation of Employees; GPS Maps; Obamacare and the Logging Contractor; and Ron Nilson outlining his KTec program.

This was the largest turnout in a number of years, with outstanding participation. The Board of Directors, Pres. Bob Danielson, Program Director Jerry Kelly and Conference Coordinator Julie Schwanz deserve congratulations for an outstanding conference.