“Welcome to the World Forestry Center,” the man at the front counter says, greeting our class. “Are you looking for a group discount?”
The class of financially-strapped scholars answers in unison with a resounding “Yes!”
We get a whopping $1.40 off.
The forestry guide leads our class to a theater room for a presentation on the importance of trees. Everyone picked at their brains for the answers to environmental questions that we knew we should recall after countless lectures.
“Can anyone name the types of forests?” Our teacher turns around and gives everyone that look. We should know this.
We should know this. Everyone picks their memories with more intensity.
“Temperate deciduous rain forest?” someone chances. His half-answer sparks everyone’s memory. The words all blur together as voices climb over each other to be heard: “Boreal! Tropical! Deciduous! Temperate!”
This was learning at its finest. It sparks us into action. We lift different types of wood to compare their weight. For a split second there was a bit of silent competition. One after another, we all lifted the different logs to see if we could do it. The way Connor lifted the heaviest type of wood (African Blackwood) made it look easy.
After walking around for a couple of hours and seeing the same tree with a mannequin forester lifelessly taking samples from a tree over and over again, things got a little boring.
The spirit of competition sparks things back up again.
The forest firefighter parachute simulation game moves us into action. We take turns sitting in a red parachuting chair and pulling the strings to flare and turn the chute. A video of the forest is projected on the floor beneath the chair to make it look like the parachutist is actually flying. One has to guide the chute/crosshairs over the projected target on the ground and land as close as possible to the target. A senior set the high score of 102 meters, which a freshman annihilated with a score of only 4 meters off-target.
At 1:30, Mrs. Keller corrals us back to the bus. This place is familiar to me like the back of my hand. But even after a million times, it was still fun. I still learned.