The Virginia Tech Forestry Club hosted the 57th annual Southern Forestry Conclave March 14-15 at Claytor Lake State Park. An estimated 250 participants and advisors from 15 schools, including Alabama A&M, Clemson University, the University of Georgia, Florida State University, and North Carolina State, attended the weekend-long competition. Participating schools rotate hosting the annual event.

“The level of organization and planning required to carry out the conclave was just mind boggling,” said Assistant Professor Jason Holliday, faculty advisor to the club. “I was thoroughly impressed at the level of professionalism with which the club approached this event.”

The club’s student conclave committee — Drew Cockram, Mason Thomas, Donnie Reese, Kimberly Pittard, and Alyssa Hamill — began planning last July. Hundreds of letters were sent to corporate sponsors, local businesses, family, and friends to raise funds. Generous donations from across the state made possible the purchase of lumber, tools, trophies, banners, and catered meals.

“I am especially proud of all our club members for stepping up and working endlessly on setting up this prestigious event,” said Cockram, committee co-chair. “We can proudly take ownership in the fact that we made the conclave happen from scratch.”

The competition consisted of physical and technical events. Physical events included log birling, log chopping, pole climbing, crosscut sawing, and axe throwing. The Virginia Tech men’s crosscut team came in first overall, and its Jack and Jill (male and female) crosscut team earned second place. Technical events included compassing and pacing, pole classification, timber estimation, and wildlife and wood identification.

“We would like to extend our gratitude to Dr. Jay Sullivan, Sue Snow, and Tracey Sherman,” Cockram added. “Dr. Sullivan gave our club unconditional support and praise throughout the preparation and hosting of the conclave, and Sue Snow and Tracey Sherman helped tremendously with the organization and preparation leading up to the event.”