The forest products industry employs over 1.4 million people in the U.S.; it ranks among the top ten manufacturing employers in 46 states. Surprisingly, a recent survey of U.S. forest products workers revealed substantial ignorance and misperceptions about forests and forestry issues. Despite this, few educational programs are targeted at this audience. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute has teamed up with Oregon State University's Forestry Media Center to fill this gap with Project FLOW (Forestry Learning Opportunities for Workers). Phase one of this project, completed in summer 1997, analyzed current status of forestry educational opportunities for forest workers in Oregon: existing educational activities, opportunities for new programs, and obstacles to implementing new programs. A mail-in survey, sent to human resource officers or chief executives of 590 forest products businesses in Oregon, indicated that it was important for forest workers to have reliable information about forestry topics. However, fewer than half those responding said that their company currently distributes educational materials or provides on-the-job learning opportunities. Principal obstacles cited were lack of time during the workday, lack of staff, and lack of relevant and effective educational materials. Phase two of this project will use the survey data, as well as information collected from focus groups, site visits, and telephone conversations with key stakeholders, to develop and pilot-test learning materials in various formats. We anticipate that materials developed through this project will have wide application throughout the United States-and that better-informed workers are likely to become better individual decision makers and more effective ambassadors for sound forest management.
Reed, Mark D.; Hino, Jeffry C.; Littlefield, Elizabeth A.; and Jensen, Edward C.
"Natural resource education: Getting forest products workers into the flow,"
Natural Resources and Environmental Issues:
Vol. 7, Article 27.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/nrei/vol7/iss1/27