Inside the wood shop at Culpeper County High School, Floyd T. Binns agriculture teacher Carly Pavan shouts encouragement to the two young men pulling back and forth on a cross cut saw.
“You’re doing great, keep going,” she yelled.
Pavan, a first-year teacher at Culpeper County Public Schools, is bringing her love of timbersports to the classroom.
A Virginia Tech graduate, Pavan was a member of the forestry club at the college and competed in timbersports. At first glance, some might be amazed that the small-statured teacher could hang with the men, but she earned her teammates respect and admiration by helping the team place second in competitions.
“I was just drawn to it,” Pavan said. “I never thought I could do it. I competed with the cross cut and it’s just very fascinating. I like the challenge and being one of the only females. It was just the challenge of being such a little person, I liked knowing I could compete with the guys and I could still do it well.”
Now, she’s teaching a new generation of Future Farmers of America to appreciate timbersports and the logging industry.
Dakota Waggler and Robert Upton, students at Floyd T. Binns, sawed back and forth on a log during Culpeper County High School’s agriculture showcase as classmates sat on it to keep it steady. With a final grunt, they sawed through the log with the cut piece making a satisfying thump on the ground.
“My dad did it (FFA) when he was in school and I just really wanted to do it,” Waggler said. “I help my mom with doing tree work, so I wanted to do something that had to do with tree work so I started doing this.”
Pavan said that CCPS will have a team competing in timbersports at field day at the state fair Oct. 4. They’ll compete in the two-man (or woman) crosscut and the bow saw. In the FFA, they learn how to do the log throw and log roll - where they use camp hooks to roll a log through a path, flip it over and bring it back.
“This is actually a very big sport, they actually run it up to the professional level,” Pavan said.
Introducing the students to the logging industry through sports is key in helping them learn about the industry and introducing them to a career they may excel in.
“Think about all the products we have, you don’t even realize how much comes from trees,” Pavan said. “This is connecting them with that and seeing the labor that goes with it as well.”
CCHS’ agriculture day is about teaching the community about the careers and projects the FFA are working on and reminding them that there are options outside of going to a four-year college.
“These kids, in this shop right here, they get those hands on skills,” Pavan said. “Instead of having college as an option, they have another career where they could go work in a shop or in the timberyard. This teaches them there other options out there. Not every kid is going to go to college and that is OK. We need more out there that are doing the hard labor and this is teaching them that.”
She stressed it’s not just for boys, using her experience at Virginia Tech as an example.
The next room over, Eastern View senior Shiyenne St. Clair helped visitors learn how to weld on the school’s virtual welder.
Not just for boys
“I think it’s a lot of fun, I really like welding,” St. Clair said. “When you use this (the virtual welder) you get into the motion and it’s easier. It’s really spot on, but it’s harder than actual welding itself.”
CCHS agriculture teacher Ted Delano said it’s the goal of the FFA to show the community what students are learning in the classroom.
“We take the academics and we put them to use,” Delano said. “They still have math and Geometry and all these key things that they learn in school, they have to use them to construct the things in the lab.”
This year, the agriculture showcase dovetailed with the annual Harvest Days Farm Tour and Delano hopes that next year the school will be a stop on the farm tour as this is where it all starts.
“I think it’s key, you want to see how the farms work and we educate students on how to go and do that,” Delano said. “Whether it's the business side of running a farm, or how to take care of the equipment or how to handle the animals, you learn the basics here.”
EVHS senior Jordan Smith also learned his basics from his dad, working with small engines and he and his classmates showed off some of the small engines they were working on at a booth at the showcase. Smith recently enlisted in the U.S. Army to be a diesel mechanic.
“I know everything there is to know about gas engines, I want to take the next step,” Smith said.
He’s worked with his dad to rebuild a 1968 Fastback from the ground up with a 408 stroker motor in it, and now he’s looking forward to turning his hobby into a career.
“It’s my happy place,” Smith said. “When I get home, I can get away. I love the feeling of accomplishment.”