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BRATTLEBORO — Forestry management is not just about running a chainsaw and it’s not a career just for men.

“Most foresters don’t run a chainsaw,” said Errold Nelson, the forestry and natural resources instructor at the Windham Regional Career Center. “They’re working in the woods and doing silviculture practices, which is managing woodlots and woodland.”

It’s a career that both men and women excel at, said Nelson, and Phoebe Weinberg, 18, of Westminster West, is proof of his contention.

“She’s a leader in the classroom and she’s a leader in the community,” said Nelson. “She may not realize it, but she really helps the dynamics in the classroom and really helps the other students in an indirect way. They really follow her lead and really look up to her.”

“I’m learning a lot of hands-on skills like chainsaw use and machinery,” said Weinberg. “But what I’m more interested in is trees and natural resources.”

“She’s very good at it,” said Nelson. “But that’s just the little piece of the puzzle. We do a lot of environmental stuff ... also talking about climate change and global warming. Maintaining healthy land and healthy trees contributes to the healthy environment and we try to teach students that come in, and the general public, that cutting trees isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s forestry management.”

Weinberg, a senior, recently won first place in soils, land judging and forestry in state competitions hosted by the FFA Vermont.

Through the Windham Career Center she’s received her OSHA 10 certification, first aid/CPR/AED, and wildland fire certification. She’s also a member of the National Honor Society and the founder and president of the high school’s ski and snowboard club.

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In 2022, she took three months off to participate in Kroka Expedition’s Arctic to Manhattan Winter Semester, which included backcountry skiing in Canada and paddling from northern Vermont to New York City.

After graduation she hopes to attend either the University of Vermont or Warren Wilson in North Carolina. Eventually, she’d like to work in the national parks.

“Maybe move from park to park doing different trailwork and stuff to see what I don’t know,” she said.

The WRCC’s Forestry and Natural Resources program introduces students to various forest management practices and skills involved in natural resource careers, focusing on tree and leaf identification, map and compass use, tractor safety and maintenance, basic welding, and chainsaw safety and operation.

Students also participate in hands-on project-based learning activities with opportunities for community service projects, field trips, job shadowing, and cooperatives.

Other areas of focus include subsurface drainage design and construction, sawmill operation, lumber grading, introduction to maple syrup production, skidder safety and operation, timber harvesting, and wildland fire control.

Other programs at the WRCC include culinary arts, early childhood education, automotive technology, health services, and criminal justice.

Bob Audette can be contacted at