Electronic Field Trip to the Forest

A simple hike through the woods turns into a learning experience for three teenagers in KET’s Electronic Field Trip to the Forest. When a forester from the Kentucky Division of Forestry joins their outing, the young hikers begin an exploration of the history of Kentucky’s forests, the natural and human influences that have shaped them, and what it will take to ensure their future survival.

Electronic Field Trip to the Forest is a 2002 KET production, developed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the Kentucky Division of Forestry. For information on purchasing videotapes or DVDs of this and other KET Electronic Field Trips, contact KET Duplication Services, (800) 945-9167.

Electronic Field Trip to the Forest (Video)

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Who's Who

Meet the professionals featured in the KET Electronic Field Trip to the Forest:

Tim Womick - Program Host

Tim WomickWhen you ask Tim Womick what he does for a living, he has an unusual answer: He’s an environmental performer.

After taking classes in acting and theater design and production at the North Carolina School of the Arts, Tim decided to try combining his love of performing with his love of nature. He now criss-crosses the country (and sometimes travels abroad) to speak and perform at events from school assemblies to community tree plantings. His goals are to educate people about the importance of trees and forests and to inspire community activists with his own enthusiasm.

Tim works for the National Tree Trust, where he created the Trail of Trees outreach program. In his first ten years at this rewarding and unconventional job, Tim estimates that he has

  • traveled to at least 39 states and several foreign countries
  • bicycled and run more than 30,000 miles for tree-related events
  • planted thousands of trees with the help of more than a million people—“preschoolers to prisoners, Hollywood types to homeless, and senior citizens to senators”

And hosting KET’s Electronic Field Trip to the Forest isn’t his first venture into mass communications, either: He has appeared on dozens of local television and radio programs and been featured in numerous newspapers as a spokesman for various events.

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Steve Bonney - Wildlife Biologist

Steve BonneyAs a regional program coordinator in the Wildlife Division of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Steve Bonney deals with the interactions between people and animals. For instance, he serves on the division’s Black Bear Committee, which monitors the black bears now reappearing in Eastern Kentucky after many years’ absence. Though many people welcome the return of the bear, others are not so sure, and the state wildlife managers must decide what to do if a particular bear becomes a problem for humans.

Though he now spends much of his work time behind a desk, managing budgets, personnel matters, and policy questions and helping to develop regulations, Steve has many years’ experience as a hands-on wildlife biologist. After getting his bachelor’s degree in natural resources conservation at the University of Connecticut, he did graduate work in wildlife ecology at the University of Kentucky. His first experience with Fish and Wildlife was as a trapper—he caught ruffed grouse for a research project. After several years of additional research work at UK, he joined Fish and Wildlife as a biologist in 1987.

Not that he stopped learning, though. According to Steve, “Education doesn’t end!” His schedule also includes numerous conferences, workshops, and continuing education classes to help him keep up with evolving theories of wildland and wildlife management. He applies that knowledge in setting procedures and work priorities for the private-lands, public-lands, and forest-management biologists he supervises. In addition, his job requires communication, public relations, and decision-making skills as he coordinates efforts with other agencies.

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Marc Evans - Ecologist

Marc EvansMarc Evans has spent his career locating, exploring, and then working to preserve unique natural areas. As senior ecologist for the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, he carries out the state’s Natural Areas Inventory, looking for places to recommend for protection as nature preserves. The area may provide habitat for rare or endangered plants or animals, or it may represent an entire ecosystem that is rare elsewhere.

Blanton Forest, the area Marc shows off in the Electronic Field Trip to the Forest, was one of his prize “finds.” This 2,350-acre forest on the southern slope of Pine Mountain in Harlan County is the largest stand of old-growth forest left in Kentucky—some of its trees date back to the days when Daniel Boone and other white pioneers were first exploring the state. While much of the surrounding forest was being sold to lumber companies in the early 20th century, local landowner Grover Blanton resisted all offers and kept this patch of woods intact. Marc came across it in 1992 and recognized it as a true ecological treasure. Thanks to his efforts and a private fund-raising campaign, Blanton Forest was purchased from Grover Blanton’s heirs and donated to the state. It opened to the public as a state nature preserve in the fall of 2001.

A graduate of Southern Illinois University, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s in botany and ecology, Marc has worked for the KNPC for more than 20 years. Before that, he worked for the Illinois Department of Conservation and as an independent biological consultant.

Since moving to Kentucky, he has started the state’s first native-plant nursery, Shooting Star Nursery in Frankfort, and created the Kentucky Large Forest Block Project. He also serves on the boards of the Kentucky Natural Lands Trust and Bernheim Forest, a privately run forest and arboretum in Nelson and Bullitt counties.

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Cecil Ison - Archaeologist

A forest archaeologist with the USDA Forest Service based in Winchester, KY, Cecil R. Ison conducts his research in the Daniel Boone National Forest. His work includes demonstrating how archaeological resources have important practical applications to an ecological approach in land and resource management. In his current project, he is researching the role fires associated with prehistoric people might have played in the development of modern forests.

A Kentucky native, Cecil describes himself as “one of the few fortunate enough to live on the farm I was born on.” He began his career with the federal government straight out of Rowan County High School, going to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a fingerprint technician in 1968. After serving in Vietnam, he went on to college with help from the GI Bill. He has a two-year degree from Trinidad State Junior College, where he majored in museum technology; a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Adams State College in Alamosa, CO; and a master’s in anthropology from the University of Kentucky.

Along the way, he began doing field work in archaeology, working on a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lake project in Colorado in 1974. After completing his graduate work, he became a staff archaeologist with UK’s Cultural Resource Assessment Program. He joined the Forest Service in 1980 and has been at his current assignment since 1983.

Cecil says he never really thought much about a career in archaeology when he was attending school. But the Daniel Boone National Forest offer seemed like “the best of all worlds—being able to continue to live on the family farm and practice archaeology in one of the most beautiful areas of the world.”

An archaeologist’s job, according to Cecil, is to “look through the small pinhole into the past …. While we will never know the names of the great leaders or what language they spoke or the name they called themselves, it is through archaeology that we experience a small piece of the human saga that has been going on here in Kentucky for at least the last 13,000 years. That is what makes it all worthwhile.”

Cecil also serves on the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission, representing governmental cultural resource issues.

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Sara Johns - Forester

Sara JohnsSara Johns is just beginning her career in forestry. She has an associate degree in forestry from Hocking College and is studying for her bachelor’s at the University of Kentucky while working for the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

That job keeps her busy with a wide variety of tasks—and a wide variety of people. In any given week, she might find herself

  • preparing a talk on forests for a school
  • inspecting a logging operation to see that it is complying with state law
  • answering questions from landowners about the trees on their property
  • helping a local fire department get specialized equipment for fighting forest fires
  • or helping to fight a wildfire herself!

Sara is also gaining skills in collaboration and teamwork by working with other government agencies.

The Kentucky Division of Forestry is an agency of the state Cabinet for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. It is responsible for keeping state-owned forests healthy, educating the public about forest health, and enforcing state laws on timber harvesting.

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Billy Joe Kerr - Master Logger

Billy Joe KerrBilly Joe Kerr owns and operates the Kerr Logging Company in his hometown of Campbellsville, Kentucky. This Taylor County High School alum is a certified Master Logger—not to mention a master with the chainsaw.

The Kentucky Master Logger Program certifies timber harvesters in the use of best management practices, which are designed to protect water quality during logging operations, as well as chainsaw safety, directional felling, and adult CPR and first aid. Since July 2000, Kentucky law has required that a certified Master Logger be on site and in charge of any commercial logging operation in the state. Billy Joe was one of the first graduates of the training program, which started in 1992.

A logger since the mid-1980s, Billy Joe started out cutting firewood and worked for several other logging companies before starting his own. He also puts his skill to use in competition. As of 2002, he had been the Kentucky State Lumberjack Overall Champion for 18 straight years. He also competes in the World Lumberjack Championships and puts on exhibitions of chainsaw racing at state fairs and competitions throughout the South—including a 10-week exhibition at Cypress Gardens in Florida. In chainsaw racing, it’s not just speed that counts: Judges look at the cut pieces to make sure that the cuts were done safely and accurately before awarding prizes.

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Jeff Lewis - Forester

Jeffrey LewisKentuckians who primarily think of the Daniel Boone National Forest as a great place to go hiking or camping are benefiting, whether they know it or not, from the work of Jeffrey F. Lewis. As the Morehead Ranger District’s silviculture, recreation, and planning forester, Jeff is responsible for ensuring that the forest stays healthy and that it remains safe and accessible to recreational users.

Jeff, who has been with the USDA Forest Service since 1986, regularly inventories stands of trees within the forest and prescribes treatments when they are diseased or otherwise disturbed, decides when and where pesticides should be used to suppress invasive plants, oversees and manages recreation programs and the district safety program, and helps suppress fires when needed. He is also coordinating the development of detailed maps of the forest using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology.

A graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he received a bachelor’s degree in forestry, Jeff got his first Forest Service experience during college as a cooperative education student, working in the Diamond Lake Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon. He stayed on there for several years as that district’s timber stand improvement forester before moving to Kentucky in the summer of 1992.

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Rex Mann - Forester

Rex B. MannIn his long career with the USDA Forest Service, which began right after he graduated from college in 1967, Rex Mann has personally witnessed the gradual shift in the agency’s philosophy from a focus on maximizing timber cuts to a more holistic approach to managing forests. Though the aim is still to make sure forests are productive, the newer approach also emphasizes sustainability. Part of Rex’s job involves promoting better, more efficient use of timber products so that timber production is less wasteful—and more attuned to the needs of the forest ecosystem as a whole.

Rex is the staff officer for timber, wildlife, and fire in the supervisor’s office for Kentucky’s Daniel Boone National Forest. He plans and directs all fire management activities; oversees the planning of timber management, including the determination of annual harvest allowances; directs the silvicultural program, which is aimed at improving the general health of the forest; and provides guidance to the foresters who do the hands-on work. Based on the results seen in the forest, he then advises the forest supervisor and district ranger on policy and management decisions.

As a staff officer, Rex also spends much of his time working with professionals from other government agencies, both federal and state. For instance, activities that may affect wildlife habitats, especially fish and game animals, are coordinated with Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. And the United States Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible for protecting rare and endangered species in the region.

Rex has a bachelor’s degree in forestry and forest management from North Carolina State University. While moving up the ranks of the agency, he has also moved around a lot: from the George Washington National Forest in Virginia to the Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia; the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas; the supervisor’s office in Jackson, MI; and then the Ouachita again. He settled in at the Daniel Boone headquarters in Winchester in 1986.

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Chestnut Gallery


Can the American Chestnut Be Saved?

The American Chestnut tree once dominated forests throughout the eastern United States. Its durable wood was ideal for railroad ties and telegraph and telephone poles. And the elegant, shade-giving shape of the tree itself made it a favorite of town planners. In a famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a 19th-century village smithy stands under a “spreading chestnut tree.”

Today, though, very few mature American Chestnuts can be found in the eastern U.S. A fungal disease called chestnut blight, accidentally brought to America from Asia in 1904, has nearly wiped it out.

Foresters and scientists are now working to save the American Chestnut. They hope to use cross-breeding techniques to create a species that will resist the blight. These photos show how one healthy tree is identified in Kentucky and then carefully pollinated. The researchers involved in the project hope that it will grow to maturity free of disease and then produce new seedlings that are also resistant.

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Forest Facts


Tree Products

Eaten Any Wood Today?

You may have! And you probably brushed your teeth with it. Chances are you even dressed with wood. Skeptical? Don’t be. We’re all familiar with forest products like lumber, furniture, and paper. But few of us realize how many different things we regularly use that are manufactured from trees. In fact, more than 5,000 wood and paper products make our lives better each day.

Here are just a few:

Fruits and Nuts
Fruit from trees such as apples and peaches, as well as nuts from trees such as walnuts, are all favorite products grown on trees.

Bandage Strips
Tree gum, sap extracted from trees, makes the adhesive on bandage strips stick to your skin.

Baseball Bats
The white ash tree is a hardwood that is used to make baseball bats—including, of course, Kentucky’s own Louisville Slugger!

Tree gum can be used to make candles.

Cellulose is used to produce rayon and acetate, which can be used to make a vast array of clothing such as ties, shirts, dresses, and suits.

Wood pulp and cellulose can be used to make plastics for items such as hair combs.

Cough Syrup
Cellulose products, used for their even-flowing consistency, often thicken cough syrups and other liquid oral medicines.

Not only is the cracker box a product of trees, but the crackers themselves can be made using a high-purity cellulose.

Gum extracted from trees can help make crayons.

Eyeglass Frames
Cellulose wood fibers are dissolved and can then be formed into molded articles like eyeglass frames.

Football Helmets
Ethyl cellulose is responsible for making the hard, impact-resistant plastics found in football helmets.

Gum and synthesized essential oils from trees can be used to make chewing gum.

Ice Cream
Ice cream can be made with cellulose, which comes from trees.

Cellulose can help give lipstick its easy-apply texture.

Makeup sometimes gets its creamy texture from the tree derivative cellulose.

Maple Syrup
Sap from trees is used to make syrup.

Milk Cartons
Milk cartons can be made from pulpwood.

Nail Polish
Nail polish contains nitrocellulose to help make the polish glossy when it dries.

Pulpwood is used to make newspaper, wrapping paper, book paper, and wallpaper.

Methylcellulose, a product made from cellulose, gives paints their thick consistency.

Parmesan Cheese
Cellulose powder is sometimes used to help keep grated Parmesan cheese pieces from caking together.

Tree logs are used to make pencils.

Tree bark is used to make “tall oil,” which cosmetic companies can use to make perfumes.

Photo Film
Logs are reduced to pulp, and the pulp is processed to create cellulose acetate chemicals that can be used to make photographic film.

Methylcellulose can be used to thicken shampoo and conditioner. Without it, they would just be soapy water!

Cellulose is broken down into chemicals that can be used to make sponges.

Tree-produced chemicals can be used for making the synthetic rubber found in tires.

Toilet Paper
Wood pulp makes paper products such as toilet tissue, paper towels, napkins, and facial tissue.

Cellulose can be used in toothpaste to give it a paste-like consistency.

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A Glossary of Forest Terms

BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES  |  timber harvesting guidelines and techniques that, when used properly, can eliminate or help reduce water pollution.

BLOCK CUT  |  a form of clearcutting where whole blocks of trees are removed from the forest, leaving the surrounding area intact.

CANOPY  |  the layer formed by the leaves and branches of the tallest trees in the forest.

CHESTNUT BLIGHT or CHESTNUT BARK DISEASE  |  a disease caused by an introduced fungus that enters wounds in a tree, grows in and under the bark, and eventually kills the cambium all the way around the twig, branch, or trunk. Sprouts develop from a burl-like tissue at the base of the tree called the “root collar,” which contains dormant embryos. As the sprouts grow, they become wounded and infected, then die—and the process starts all over again. The blight fungus moves from tree to tree as spores on the feet, fur, and feathers of the many animals and insects that walk across the cankers. The disease is now found throughout the native range of the American Chestnut and has even moved into some of the places where trees were planted outside that range.

CLEARCUT  |  a logging style where all trees in an area are removed.

CLEMENTS, FREDERICK  |  (1874-1945) an ecologist at the University of Nebraska and the University of Minnesota who helped develop and extensively studied the theory of succession.

CLIMAX SPECIES  |  tree species that are present in a forest reaching maturity (in the final stage of succession). These trees come in after the pioneer species and shade out the earlier species. Those with large crowns, such as poplar, maple, oak, and, in the past, the American Chestnut, might be part of the canopy or overstory. Others that can grow in the shade of the overstory trees might be part of the understory; they include beech, dogwood, papaw, and rhododendron.

CONSUMER  |  an organism that gets its energy by eating other organisms. There are three types of consumers: Primary consumers (herbivores) are animals that eat plants, such as mice or deer. Secondary consumers (carnivores) are animals that eat the primary consumers, like bobcats and hawks. Some animals, such as bears and humans, eat a diet of both plants and animals and are called omnivores.

DECOMPOSER  |  an organism that feeds on the bodies of dead, rotting organisms and the waste of living organisms and converts the matter back into soil components that can then be used as nutrients by plants growing in the soil. Examples include bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects.

DISTURBANCE EVENT  |  an event such as a fire, a disease epidemic, an insect infestation, the introduction of an exotic species, or a weather event such as a windstorm or drought that disrupts the natural cycles in the forest and causes changes in habitat, loss of species, and other changes that can affect the health of the forest.

FOOD WEB  |  a diagram of the flow of energy through an ecosystem. At the base of this diagram are plants. Some animals eat plants and get energy from them. Other animals eat the plant-eating animals. When any organism—plant or animal—dies, its body starts to decay or rot. Microscopic organisms, insects, worms, and other decomposers break down this rotting matter and return its elements to the soil. Plants then take the nutrients from the soil, and the cycle continues.

HABITAT  |  an animal’s home; the place where it finds what it needs to survive. These needs can be summarized as mainly food, shelter, water, and space.

HIGH-GRADE LOGGING  |  removing the best timber and leaving the poorest trees behind, regardless of quality, condition, or position in the stand.

KENTUCKY FOREST CONSERVATION ACT  |  a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 1998 to regulate timber cutting in the state in the hope of promoting long-term sustainable timber production while also ensuring healthy forests. The act requires that commercial logging operations have a master logger on site and in charge, use best management practices, and correct any damage done to land and water resources. It also established a Best Management Practices Board, provides for penalties to timber cutters who do not comply with the requirements, requires an annual state forest inventory, and authorizes public education programs on good forestry practices.

KEYSTONE SPECIES  |  a plant or animal species that many other organisms in a community depend on, such as the American Chestnut before the chestnut blight.

MASTER LOGGER PROGRAM  |  a training program for Kentucky loggers where they learn best management practices, regulations, and other topics related to timber harvesting, with the aim of developing more efficient and environmentally sound logging operations.

MIXED MESOPHYTIC FOREST  |  mesophytic means “moderate loving” and refers to plants that prefer moderate levels of soil moisture and temperate climate. Mixed refers to a mixture of species that may include both evergreen and deciduous trees. Eastern Kentucky forests are part of the mixed mesophytic forest that extends down the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia. These forests are very diverse, with more than 200 species of trees, and exist on deep, well-drained soils. The soils are rich in nutrients and possess a humus layer (the dark, rich layer just under the fallen leaves) in which organic matter quickly decomposes.

OLD-GROWTH FOREST  |  a forest that has not been logged where the trees are at least 150 years old. Some of the features of an old-growth forest are trees with large crowns; gaps in the canopy from fallen trees; and remains of dead trees in the form of standing snags and rotting logs, which slowly decompose to enrich and thicken the forest floor.

OVERSTORY  |  see canopy.

PIONEER SPECIES  |  any of the first plants to take root in an area cleared of vegetation during the process of succession. Depending on the area, the “pioneers” could be mosses, lichens, grasses, etc. Some of the pioneer trees that start in an area have to be strong or robust enough to compete with grasses and other pioneer plants. And since there are no other trees to shade them, they must thrive in full sunlight. Some examples of pioneer trees (depending on the ecosystem) might include cedars, pines, sumac, and sassafras.

PRODUCER  |  an organism that can take in inorganic matter and convert it to organic matter. Green plants are producers since they take in sunlight and, through the process of photosynthesis, convert it to stored energy that can then be used by animals (consumers) that feed on them.

SELECTIVE CUT  |  a timber cutting practice in which each tree to be cut is chosen with regard to its position in the stand and future growth potential.

SUCCESSION  |  the gradual replacement of one plant community by another through natural processes over time.

UNDERSTORY  |  the layer formed by the leaves and branches of the smaller trees under the forest canopy.

VERNAL POOL  |  a temporary pool of water formed by the collection of rainwater or run-off in a depression such as a tip-up formation. Vernal pools serve as nurseries for frogs and salamanders.

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Teacher's Guide - Using the Field Trip in the Classroom

Electronic Field Trip to the Forest, a 2002 KET production, is a 60-minute overview of forest ecology and management for grades 4-8, covering topics in environmental science, life science, history, geography, and economics. While introducing several fundamental concepts in biology, the program also focuses on human interactions with and uses of forests, emphasizing the need for good stewardship.

The field trip is divided into three 20-minute segments for classroom use, focusing on these broad themes:

  1. Part 1 – History and geography: an overview of historic uses of forests and an introduction to forest habitats
  2. Part 2 – Life science and environmental science: forest ecology, the functions of healthy forests, and the importance of old-growth forest
  3. Part 3 – Economics: wood and tree-derived products, timber management, and regulation of forests and logging

The field trip is hosted by actor Tim Womick and three teenagers, who discuss what they are learning about forests on a series of hikes through the woods. Interviews and demonstrations by foresters, a wildlife biologist, an ecologist, an archaeologist, and a logger introduce and illustrate the various concepts.

Part 1

Major themes:

  • human uses of forests
  • the story of the American Chestnut
  • habitats and how they change over time
  • the history of Kentucky’s forests

Vocabulary terms (see glossary):

  • chestnut blight
  • consumer
  • decomposer
  • food web
  • habitat
  • overstory (canopy)
  • producer
  • succession
  • understory


At the beginning of Part 1, three teens—Elaphe, 16; Sharonda, 13; and Acris, 13—are hiking through the forest. As they walk, they discuss how beautiful their surroundings are. But they are concerned that the forest will not survive due to humans’ needs for timber and space.

As they continue to hike, they come across Tim (played by actor Tim Womick), a forester with the Kentucky Division of Forestry who is surveying a logging site. Tim explains that much of the forest land in Kentucky is privately owned and that foresters and other professionals are available to help landowners manage their forests wisely so that they will be sustainable for years to come.

Tim tells the kids that they can learn a lot about the history of the forest by learning about the American Chestnut. Rex Mann from the USDA Forest Service tells the story of this tree, starting with the former role of the American Chestnut in Eastern forests. He recounts its near extinction due to the accidental introduction of the chestnut blight and explains how researchers are attempting to genetically create a blight-resistant version of the American Chestnut.

The story prompts a discussion among Tim and the kids about how animals and plants are interconnected in the forest. Steve Bonney, a biologist with the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife Resources, explains several concepts in nature that demonstrate this interconnectedness:

  • food webs
  • habitats
  • the effects on natural systems of the loss of species
  • the inevitability of change in nature
  • the process of succession
  • the need for different types of forest habitat

The kids then learn more about the history of the forest through an interview with Cecil Ison, USDA Forest Service archaeologist at Clear Creek Furnace. He tells how the actions of prehistoric Native Americans and early European settlers changed the nature of the forest through fire and the harvesting of wood to meet a variety of needs, such as timber for housing, fences, and railroad ties and charcoal for iron production.

Tim and the kids agree to split for lunch and then return to learn about the future of the forest.

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Part 2

Major themes:

  • factors that affect forest health
  • the benefits of healthy forests to the environment
  • old-growth vs. secondary forest
  • ecosystems

Vocabulary terms (see glossary):

  • canopy
  • Clements, Frederick
  • climax species
  • disturbance event
  • mixed mesophytic forest
  • old-growth forest
  • pioneer species


As Part 2 begins, Tim and the teenagers walk through the woods to meet Jeff Lewis, a silviculturist with the USDA Forest Service, Morehead Ranger District. He tells them about the health of the forest, elaborating on the process of succession as change over time, and about the reaction of the forest to disturbance events that might affect its health: fire, disease, insects, and weather events such as windstorms. He also talks about how the forest helps the environment as a whole by cleaning air and water and by helping to store water and meter it out so that it is available when needed.

Tim then recalls a meeting between author Zoe Strecker and Marc Evans, an ecologist with the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. In a video segment from KET’s Kentucky Life, Marc and Zoe tour the largest old-growth forest area in Kentucky, Blanton Forest. Marc explains how he identified the area as an old-growth forest, the differences between old-growth and secondary-growth forests, and the advantages of preserving old-growth areas.

The kids then hear Steve Bonney of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources talking about the interconnectedness of organisms in the natural world—how a loss of one species affects all parts of the ecosystem. He uses the analogy of a computer having its internal wiring cut wire by wire to illustrate his point: How long do you think the computer would continue to function?

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Part 3

Major themes:

  • everyday products from trees
  • forest management
  • timber harvesting
  • sustainability

Vocabulary terms (see glossary):

  • best management practices (BMPs)
  • block cut
  • clearcut
  • high-grade logging
  • Kentucky Forest Conservation Act
  • Master Logger Program
  • selective cut
  • vernal pool


When Tim and the kids meet the next day, Tim discovers that the kids, their interest piqued, have looked through their houses for information about trees and products made from trees. Sharonda talks about looking through her house for products from trees. In a flashback, we see her conducting a scavenger hunt.

Considering all the trees it takes to create all those wood products, the kids talk about how hard it is to believe that there are still forests at all. Tim says that for the forests to survive, landowners and forestry professionals have to work together to ensure that they will remain healthy.

Tim and his young friends then meet a professional logger, Billy Joe Kerr, who explains that landowners ask him to harvest timber in a way that will ensure that the forest will continue to produce high-quality timber for many years to come. He outlines some of the different types of harvests that can be done and explains why some are better than others in meeting the goal of sustainability.

Billy Joe then demonstrates how he would selectively harvest some trees in order to get the timber he wants and still protect the health of a tree stand.

Next, Sarah Johns of the Kentucky Division of Forestry explains some specifics about how forests are managed in Kentucky:

  • how landowners, consultant foresters, and loggers all work together to create sustainable forests
  • the Kentucky Forest Conservation Act and its outcomes
  • best management practices
  • how everyone, including students and parents, needs to work together to help the forest environment

The program ends with Tim summarizing the concepts that were presented during the field trip.

Wood products seen in Sharonda’s scavenger hunt (see the tree products section for more ideas):

  • football helmet—made of ethyl cellulose, which is used for high-impact plastics
  • toilet paper—made from wood pulp
  • games—made from wooden pieces
  • shirt—made of rayon, which is derived from cellulose
  • cap—bill is made of ethyl cellulose
  • hair spray—a wood pulp byproduct
  • shampoo and conditioner—use methyl cellulose as a thickener
  • makeup—gets creamy texture from cellulose
  • paint—contains methyl cellulose as thickener
  • charcoal—made of burned wood
  • newspaper—made from wood pulp
  • film—made from cellulose acetate
  • crayons—made from tree resin
  • shredded cheese—kept from clumping by cellulose powder

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Forestry Quiz


Match the following words with their meanings by putting the letter of the definition beside the correct term.

  1. ____ producer
  2. ____ consumer
  3. ____ decomposer
  4. ____ old growth forest
  5. ____ canopy
  6. ____ block cut
  7. ____ selective cut
  8. ____ high grade
  9. ____ pioneer species
  10. ____ keystone species
  1. a forest that has not been logged where trees are at least 150 years old
  2. a form of timber harvesting where some whole blocks of trees are cut down, leaving the forest areas around them alone
  3. the layer formed by the leaves and branches of the tallest trees in the forest
  4. a plant or animal that takes dead matter and changes it into forest soil nutrients
  5. timber-harvesting form where each tree cut is carefully selected with regard to its location and possible future effect on the growth of the tree stand
  6. one of the first species of trees to grow in an old field
  7. a green plant that uses sunlight and inorganic matter to make its own food
  8. a dominant species such as the American Chestnut on which many other organisms depend to help them survive
  9. an animal that gets its energy from eating plants or other animals
  10. a form of timber harvesting which removes all the best trees and leaves the poorer trees. (This is not a good way of harvesting because it will not produce good seeds or high-quality trees in the future.)


Circle the letter of the best answer.

  1. Most forests in Kentucky are owned by
    1. the United States government
    2. logging companies
    3. private landowners
    4. the Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission
  2. The reason you see very few American Chestnuts in Kentucky forests today is
    1. they were all cut down by loggers in the 1800s.
    2. there never were many American Chestnuts in Kentucky.
    3. they were killed by a disease called chestnut blight.
    4. they were killed by Japanese beetles.
  3. The nuts of the American Chestnut were a very reliable food source because
    1. the tree flowered very early, during spring frosts.
    2. the tree flowered late, after the spring frosts.
    3. chestnut trees produced more nuts than oak trees did.
    4. the nuts from the American Chestnut were easier to harvest than those of other nut trees.
  4. A disturbance event is
    1. what happens when you wake up a sleeping bear.
    2. something like a fire or disease that disturbs the natural cycles in the forest.
    3. one plant community slowly replacing another one through natural processes.
    4. something that only happens when humans cause damage to the forest.
  5. A food web is
    1. a diagram of how energy flows through an ecosystem.
    2. the web that a spider spins to catch its food.
    3. food, shelter, water, and space.
    4. another word for succession.
  6. What is succession?
    1. food, water, shelter, and space
    2. one plant community slowly replacing another one through natural processes
    3. one animal succeeding by eating another animal
    4. something that disturbs the natural cycles in the forest
  7. Fill in the blank: The Clear Creek iron furnace used _______________ as its heat source.
    1. freshly cut timber
    2. coal
    3. propane gas
    4. charcoal
  8. Timber harvesting guidelines and methods that help ensure healthy future forests and prevent or reduce water pollution that could otherwise result from logging are called
    1. pioneer species
    2. ecology rules
    3. best management practices
    4. succession
  9. Which of the following is not something you would find in an old-growth forest?
    1. large trees that are 150 years old or older
    2. a deep layer of leaf litter on the forest floor
    3. large spaces in the canopy caused by old trees falling
    4. young, evenly spaced trees
  10. The endangered fish called the black-sided dace can live in the streams found in Blanton Forest because
    1. they nest in the roots of the trees that grow by the streams.
    2. they eat the chestnuts that fall into the water.
    3. they need the cool, clean water that occurs in this old-growth forest.
    4. they live by eating an insect that lives only in Blanton Forest.

Open-Response Questions

Answer these questions in your own words.

  1. Describe some ways that a forest helps to clean and store water.
  2. Describe the steps in succession, starting with an abandoned field.
  3. What is an animal’s habitat? Be sure to list all of its parts.
  4. Who were the first forest managers in Kentucky? How and why did they make changes to the forests?
  5. Why is it important to help prevent loss of plant and animal species?

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