U Forestry Club spruces up Highway 169

Members cleaned a two-mile stretch as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program.

Vincent Staupe

Four members of the University’s Forestry Club scoured a windswept section of U.S. Highway 169 near Milaca on Saturday morning, picking up trash, including random objects such as a ruffled pillow and a pair of shoes.

“Here’s a license plate,” said graduate student Jake Frie, briefly joking about whether the tabs are expired before throwing it into a plastic bag.

Club members spruced up a two-mile stretch of road about an hour north of the Twin Cities as part of the Adopt-A-Highway program, one of many activities the club conducts to promote outdoor social activities and environmental awareness.

Established in 1907, the Forestry Club is one of the oldest student groups on campus. It’s a “social, yet educational” group, said club president and forest resources junior Tiffany Triggs.

“One of the objectives of the club is to try and learn more about forestry as a profession,” she said.

In addition to participating in the Adopt-A-Highway program, the Forestry Club also holds an annual Christmas tree sale, a Forestry Day event and recently hosted a regional conference in Cloquet.

“It’s just a lot of people who like working outside,” Triggs said.

Triggs said there’s a misconception that people involved in forestry would never cut down a tree, when in fact, it can be helpful, especially in preventing build-up for a potential forest fire.

Triggs jokingly said to her crew Saturday that, when it comes to trees, “I don’t hug ’em, I cut ’em.”

Frie, who is pursuing a forestry-related career, said meeting new people was one of the reasons he joined the club.

“You also get to meet some professional contacts,” he said, adding that he was able to discuss possible internship opportunities with others.

One contact the club touts is Carl Vogt, a part-time instructor in the University forest resources department and owner of TEC Christmas trees, which has several tree farms located north of the metro.

“The club is a great opportunity for the students,” Vogt said.

In addition to serving as a faculty adviser, Vogt also gives the club a discount on Christmas trees, provided they help cut and prepare them. Members then sell those trees for profit.

Vogt said hosting club members provides them with “first-hand experience” working with trees that may be useful for their careers.

Once the club members finished cleaning up ditches Saturday, they headed over to the farm to help Vogt and others cut down firs and other Christmas trees in preparation for the sale.

“This is about the right time to cut them,” Vogt said.

While Vogt cut down the trees with a chainsaw, Triggs and Frie brought them to a machine that shakes the trees to remove dead needles. The trees will then be baled and ready for purchase at the Forestry Club’s sale, which begins the day after Thanksgiving at the Les Bolstad University golf course near the St. Paul campus.