Clackamas Tree School, set for March 21, 2020, would have marked our 30th anniversary before being postponed for the COVID-19 pandemic and offered online later in the year. Since 1991, the Clackamas County Extension office has been organizing this forestry education event for anyone interested in learning about forestry and natural resources.
Through the years it has grown and become what it is today, the largest annual forestry education event in Oregon. Not only has it grown in size, it has also inspired five other Extension offices throughout the state to develop Tree Schools with the hope that more will follow.
“It has really been fun to watch this event grow over the years," said Mike Bondi, former Extension forestry agent in Clackamas County and originator of the program. "The first Tree School grew out of the Clackamas County Farm Forestry Association’s Annual Meeting. We were looking for a different way to approach forest-owner education — providing lots of different classes, all in one day, that would appeal to a large number of landowners, each with their own interests of what to learn.
"The learning opportunities, coupled with a great group of exhibitors who provide important product and services for the landowners, amazing instructors with great expertise, and a huge crowd of people for attendees to network with, all helped to build this incredible event. That first Tree School had 125 attendees and 24 classes. Look at it today — it just gets better every year!”
Tree School has become an important spring gathering where community members can get together and expand their knowledge of forestry and become better stewards of woodlands. Partners from around the state include the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, Oregon Forest Resources Institute, Oregon Department of Forestry, soil and water conservation districts, and more. They volunteer their time each year to teach the subjects that they are passionate about.
Some families use the day to come together for family reunions. Others get their children and grandchildren involved with the hopes that they can take over the family woodland in the future. Many come to gain continuing education credits to help them in their careers.
The exhibit hall is another important piece of Tree School. Exhibitors come from all over to showcase their programs and products. It is an opportunity for the participants to learn what other resources we have available in our community, and even purchase some useful items on the spot.