Audrey Gerding
PHS junior Audrey Gerding is the Forestry Student of the Month for March. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)
Editor’s note: The PHS Forestry Student of the Month is a new series that will be published at highlighting top students. This series is made possible through a sponsorship of Starker Forests.

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Gerding knows her way around the forest. You might say it’s in her blood.

“My dad owns a logging business — he bought it from my grandpa once he retired, so we’ve always been super into it,” Audrey said. “We’re super outdoorsy and my brother logs with my dad and so we’re all just kind of in the program.”

Audrey, daughter of Stacy and Jason Gerding, is the Philomath High School Forestry Student of the Month for March. The grandpa she mentioned is Jerry Gerding and her brother is Jared Gerding.

A junior at PHS, Audrey is a student in Simon Babcock’s advanced forestry class. Asked what she likes most about forestry, she said, “probably getting to do some of the events and just being able to go out and do fun things and learn new things, too. … (You’re) not looking at a book and doing hands-on things, being active, which is nice.”

As one might guess because of the pandemic, there hasn’t been much in the way of hands-on experiences for close to a year now. Audrey said the virtual class has remained interesting.

“For forestry, it’s still not too bad,” she said. “Of course I’d love to be going out into the woods every day for this class.”

Audrey initially became interested in forestry just to see what it was like while participating in some of the events.

“Usually, there are competitions that we go to and I never got to do any of those,” she said. “I got to go to the logging conference last spring right before we left school, so that was cool, and got to do some of the events there, but I never actually got to compete at any of the school events against other schools like Tillamook or Scio.”

The forestry classes cover a variety of topics.

“Identifying trees — that’s a big one,” she said. “First year, that was like what we did a lot of was identifying trees, what some of the tools are, how to run some of the tools … how to do some of the events like cross-cut, cable splice.

“I learned how to run a chainsaw through the program, so that was pretty cool,” she added.

Audrey said she plans to remain a part of the forestry program next year. As far as future plans, she wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

“I like cooking, like my mom, she’s the lunch lady at the high school,” she said. “That’s kinda what I’m going into. I love cooking.”

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