PCHS Forestry Team Wins FFA National Forestry Competition

The Pocahontas County High School Forestry Team has won the National FFA Forestry Team Championship, competing against 46 other State Champion Forestry Teams from across the United States. To learn more about this amazing accomplishment, we spoke to Scott Garber, the school’s Forestry Teacher.

“We traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana towards the end of October for the National Forestry Competition” said Garber. “There were roughly 47 teams. The weather was great, the kids were great, had a good trip out. This team prepared, and prepared and prepared. It was one of those teams that when they got out of school, they worked a lot on their own. We have a binder that I made up for each one of them and occasionally they would get together on their own and go out in the woods and work on what is on the competition. When we got out there the weather was just perfect and they took the bull by the horns and this group of kids did very well. I think the group of practicums that were there were timber cruising, compass and pacing, wood product ID, the written test, a business test, a team event where they all worked together through fifty questions so they get to see how they work together as a group, and there is a general knowledge test, which is broke up into outside practicums and inside practicums.”

Who was on the team?

“Kyle Cohenour, Jacob Jones, Branden Puffenbarger and Mathias Solliday.  Teams that go to Nationals and have success usually one or two really excels and gets in the top five individuals. We didn’t have that. We had two in the top ten -number eight and number ten, and then we had number eleven and number twenty-eight individually. There were other states that had two actually in the top five. But it is broken down into Gold Metal individuals, Silver Medal individuals, and Bronze. We were the only state that had four individuals in the Gold Metal category. We didn’t have anybody excel, but we had a great team. Our guys were very consistent, and that’s what separated them from all the other states. They were good at everything. They weren’t great at one particular thing, but boy, they were just good at everything. Didn’t have any weaknesses. And Kyle had a groin issue from Soccer, so his pace was a little off from what he is used to doing. Right after our state competition his issue popped up again. And of course we had Compass and Pacing, which was one we were hoping we wouldn’t have for his sake, but he knocked it out of the park as well. We did have a lot of folks who helped us get to the competition. We send out letters asking for sponsorship and we had quite a few folks who did that, so a big thanks goes out to them. And I can’t do an interview without thanking the main people -my wife Rebecca-without her supporting me at home, I would never get to spend the time with these great kids and then my two boys, Wade and Reed as well. And then the staff at school, they also supported us very well. We’ve had a lot of community backing as well. And I think it’s a lot to do with the character of the kids.”

Following our interview, Mr. Garber contacted me with a couple of additional thoughts. He wanted to acknowledge that this was the first time his son Wade was able to accompany him to the Nationals. Garber also wanted it known that, even though this is not a typical sport, it has the longest season, running for six months from May through October. He also wanted us to know that while at Nationals, the team attended an FFA Special meeting at which President Trump spoke. Finally, in a sadder note, Garber said that on the day before the team left to go to Nationals, Lindsey Gay Lambert, who was on the 2014 PCHS Forestry Team that won 2nd Place in the Nationals, passed away in a traffic accident.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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