Students take direct route from competition to community service

PHOTO PROVIDED Representing Penn College at a recent woodsmen’s meet in North Carolina were, from left, students Kristin E. Cavanaugh, Bellefonte; Aaron V. Jedrziewski, Williamsport; and Jackson H. Gehris, Cogan Station; G. Andrew Bartholomay, assistant professor of forest technology; and students Levi J. Weidner, Mechanicsburg; William A. Morrow, Newville; Tyler W. Lauver, Mifflinburg; Abigail L. Hufnagle, Lewisburg; and Derick S. Gower, Sunbury.

Returning from an Oct. 7 woodsmen’s competition in North Carolina’s Pisgah National Forest, the Pennsylvania College of Technology Forestry Club — conveniently toting the tools that had earlier brought many of the students individual honors — put their skills to work in a much-appreciated display of public assistance.

Eight members of the club’s Woodsman Team had journeyed to The Cradle of Forestry to compete in the 22nd annual John Palmer Intercollegiate Woodsmen’s Meet, the third consecutive year that Penn College students made the trip. While the students comported themselves admirably in their respective events, the collective Good Samaritan act that followed left no axes to grind.

“Interestingly, the chopping didn’t stop with the conclusion of the meet,” said coach and club adviser G. Andrew Bartholomay, an assistant professor of forest technology. “After breaking camp Saturday night and heading home, the team happened upon a large, dead hemlock tree that had fallen and was blocking the Pisgah Highway. Under the headlights of two college vans and several other trapped cars, the Woodsman Team went to work chopping and clearing the obstruction.”

Members were Kristin E. Cavanaugh, of Bellefonte; Jackson H. Gehris, of Cogan Station; Derick S. Gower, of Sunbury; Abigail L. Hufnagle, of Lewisburg; Aaron V. Jedrziewski, of Williamsport; Tyler W. Lauver, of Mifflinburg; William A. “Billy” Morrow, of Newville; and Levi J. Weidner, of Mechanicsburg.

“Billy Morrow pronounced the efforts ‘a community service for the people of North Carolina.’ The team’s efforts were met with cheers and ‘Thank you’s’ from a half-dozen people who gratefully continued their travels,” Bartholomay added. “There’s never a dull moment with the Woodsman Team!”

The meet was hosted by Haywood Community College in Clyde, North Carolina; the U.S. Forest Service; and the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association. In addition to Penn College and the host institution, eight other teams competed: Montgomery Community College, Warren Wilson College, University of Tennessee, Appalachian State University, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, West Virginia University, Western Carolina University and North Carolina State University.

As a team, Penn College finished seventh overall with some outstanding performances in individual events.

Jedrziewski placed first in the timed Chain Saw event; Hufnagle took second place in the Women’s Axe Throw for the second year in a row; Lauver and Jedrziewski finished third in Water Boil; and Lauver placed third in the Men’s Pole Climb.

For the second straight year, Gehris placed third in the Men’s Bolt Split and partnered with Jedrziewski for a fourth-place spot in Dendrology, the highest Penn College placement in that event in the past five years. Jedrziewski also scored in Orienteering, finishing fourth, and four team members — Cavanaugh, Gower, Weidner and Lauver — were fourth in the Team Log Roll.

“The team members performed really well and finished just out of contention in numerous events,” Bartholomay said. “Cavanaugh put up a personal-best time in the Women’s Horizontal Speed Chop and is looking forward to improving for the next meet in Spring 2018.

“Likewise, Lauver had an outstanding Pole Climb but missed first with just a single misplaced gaff that cost him enough time to move to third place,” he added. “Many of these competitions come down to fractions of a second. The eight members who traveled to North Carolina have been practicing two days per week, and the efforts paid off.”

Gehris, Hufnagle and Jedrziewski are forest technology majors; Cavanaugh is enrolled in heavy construction equipment technology: Caterpillar equipment emphasis; Gower and Weidner are construction management students; Lauver majors in electrical technology; and Morrow is in the building science and sustainable design: architectural technology concentration.

As proved by the diverse makeup of the competition squad, students from any major are welcome to join the Forestry Club, and can check it out any time the team practices. (To accommodate schedule conflicts, Bartholomay said someone is usually practicing from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the Schneebeli Earth Science Center south of the main campus in Williamsport.)

The coach/adviser also noted that the club is selling firewood for a cost per cord as a fundraiser. To confirm a practice time or to buy firewood, contact him at

For more about Penn College’s forest technology major in the School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies, visit or call 570-327-4516.

For more about the college, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, visit, email or call 800-367-9222.