David Hunter-Godard
PHS sophomore David Hunter-Godard is the Forestry Student of the Month for April. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)
Editor’s note: The PHS Forestry Student of the Month series highlights top forestry students. This series is made possible through a sponsorship of Starker Forests.

Before Philomath High School shut down in March of last year because of the coronavirus, then-freshman David Hunter-Godard had been enjoying forestry competitions. In fact, he said he was on his way to participating at the annual state competition.

A sophomore who will turn 16 this month, Hunter-Godard loves the forestry program’s skills days.

“That’s my favorite part because it gets you active and into something that you really like to do,” Hunter-Godard said. “My favorite is choker set.”

Hunter-Godard, son of Mike and Jackie Hunter, is the Philomath High School Forestry Student of the Month for April.

Hunter-Godard said forestry seemed like a fun class to try out — he’s had cousins who had been involved in the past — so he signed up right away as he advanced into high school. He’s liked it ever since and plans to remain in the program until he graduates.

“We do skills — there’s technical days where we focus on tree ID and tool ID,” he said, explaining what the class he’s taking encompasses. “Then we’ll do the technical stuff — map reading, compass pacing, and if it’s nice like today, we’ll usually be outside doing skills like choker setting, pole climbing and that kind of stuff.”

The program goes beyond the teaching of only forestry-related skills. For example, Hunter-Godard mentioned work ethic.

“Some days, if we’re all doing skills and Mr. Babcock already has a skills day planned for that week, we’ll go into Downing Forest and we’ll just cut firewood and stack it … it’s job skills, is mainly what the class is about, that and to also have a good work ethic.”

Like other classes, forestry students have had to learn virtually during the COVID pandemic.

“That was mainly just technical stuff, the same stuff that you do inside,” he said. “It was just harder because it’s virtual. You have little assignments here and there.”

In distance learning, there were pretty much no opportunities to get outside, Hunter-Godard said, unless students happened to have the equipment, then they could come down to the skills area.

Asked about his future — and keep in mind, he’s only a high school sophomore — Hunter-Godard sounds like he’s attracted to hard work.

“Probably not forestry as a job but I may do agriculture and mechanics — it’s the same type of work style, you could say, the same type of work ethic.”