A Win with Confidence

Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Forest Technology students in the two-year program at the Thompson School of Applied Science (TSAS) within the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) are not just strong in the field. They’re now the 2014 champions of the New England Society of American Foresters’ (NESAF) Forestry Quiz Bowl, rising above students from baccalaureate programs throughout New England during NESAF’s 94th annual winter meeting in Nashua last month.

The Forestry Quiz Bowl is a fast-paced, Jeopardy-style trivia game—similar to the popular TV show—in which teams of four students from the regions’ college-level forestry programs compete with one another to answer questions related to their field of study. Students select categories with corresponding monetary value, and have five seconds to confer with one another before responding to the questions. Categories include forest ecology, silviculture, logging, land surveying and mapping, fire, and tree identification, along with daily double answers related to a famous forestry person.

TSAS forestry team members and non-traditional students Greg Mitchell, Marc Ghen, Josh McGraw, and Nick Lanzer rapidly asked accurate questions to statements, like “This even-aged silviculture system provides both a seed source and protection for the regeneration,” and outshined their competitors with their knowledge of forestry beyond the Shelterwood system. Coached by Thompson School of Applied Science’s Professor of Forest Technology Matt Chagnon, the TSAS team surpassed players from Paul Smith’s College in the preliminary round while the UNH Bachelor of Science in Forestry (BSF) team beat out UMASS Amherst. The Thompson School and UNH BSF teams advanced to the finals during which the TSAS team ultimately won the match. As former Marines, McGraw and Mitchell coordinated with former army ranger Ghen and helicopter pilot Lanzer to play with confidence. “It was like a highly orchestrated, covert military operation,” says Chagnon about his mentees’ strategy. “They executed the plan, and there were no survivors.”

Later Chagnon told the students that they could pick up their money at the registration table, but, says Chagnon, “I don’t think any of them believed me. They were just competing for the glory of their school.” The name of the Thompson School of Applied Science will be inscribed on a plaque affixed to the Forestry Quiz Bowl trophy, a coveted prize since the tradition was established in 1984. This victory on behalf of the forestry team for the Thompson School underscores the rigorous nature of the Forest Technology program. “For every hour the students are in the classroom, they have two hours of field work,” says Chagnon of the two-year major that prepares students exceptionally well to either apply for the baccalaureate program or enter the workforce as a highly sought after Thompson School graduate reputed to have outstanding field experience.