Maine’s first Mechanized Logging Operations program hosted a Completion Ceremony on Friday, September 22, 2017. Supporters of the program, families of the trainees, industry leaders and legislators gathered at the program’s woodlot near Millinocket, Maine for the celebration.
The students that completed the rigorous program were Cody Dennison of Leeds, Ben Tuttle of Limerick, William Mazariego of South Paris, Patrick Eastman of Lincoln, Samuel Shook of Old Town, and Jason Durant of Brownville.
Student Jason Durant said, “We all gained a whole new appreciation of what actually goes in to this work every day. This program is important and the six of us can really help encourage the efforts for it to continue.”
All students each earned an average of 22 CAT training hours resulting in certificates, 293 in-seat equipment hours, and 70.5 classroom hours, which included simulator and CAT University training. All of the students have either secured a job or received offers.
“Our aging work force and out migration will require education, industry and government to work closer than ever if we are going to respond to the workforce needs of the state of Maine. This project is a very good example of how collaboration and cooperation can address this concern,” said NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “We are providing an opportunity for six individuals to lead a more productive life and we have taken an important step toward rebuilding an efficient and robust logging industry.”
The program was several years in the making and was a result of a collaborative effort between Northern Maine Community College, Eastern Maine Community College, Washington County Community College, and the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine.
“I want to commend the Maine Community College System for their commitment to this program. This is the first day of many that will lead to a successful and brighter future for the state of Maine,” said Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau. “Your success is critical to the success of this state.”
The Mechanized Logging Operators program was developed in response to an aging workforce and a need for skilled workers. Historically, employers spend approximately $100,000 to train their mechanized operators. Support from Maine Quality Centers and private industry support such as Milton CAT and Nortrax Inc. allowed this training to be offered at no cost to the students or the employers.
In addition, Katahdin Forest Management donated the timber stand for the students to harvest. The money earned from the harvest will go back to the program to help offset costs and aid in sustainability for future cohorts.