Hailie Couture
Hailie Couture is November’s Philomath High School Forestry Student of the Month sponsored by Starker Forests. (Photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

When it comes to learning in the classroom, 16-year-old Hailie Couture would rather not be sitting at a desk, but in an outside environment — in the forest or perhaps next to a stream. The Oregon outdoors can provide quite an education with Philomath’s youth gaining exceptional exposure to a variety of experiences through the high school’s forestry program.

Couture is a student in the program’s fish and wildlife section.

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.

“He puts me in a leadership role so I get to do more stuff to help other students and work with them to improve their skills in different areas that they can work on,” said Couture, referring to instructor Simon Babcock.

Couture, daughter of Ryan and Abby Couture, is November’s Philomath High School Forestry Student of the Month sponsored by Starker Forests.

Helping classmates seems to be enjoyable for the PHS junior. Although she doesn’t participate in forestry competitions herself, she does go the extra mile and partners with other students who do compete.

Couture said she followed in the footsteps of her brother, Taylor Couture, as an introduction to Philomath High’s forestry program.

Couture’s dad works for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife as a hatchery manager.

“So, I grew up on a hatchery doing all kinds of stuff with fish and wildlife and forestry,” she said. “I enjoy working with the fish especially … you get lots of hands-on activities. That contributes to the classroom, like going out and you get to set chokers and everything — hands-on stuff.”

Just recently, the class was out on the school district’s 20-acre Castle Family Forest near Wren and set up trail cameras. Couture said the class planned to go back this week to collect recordings to see what animals were captured in the images.

Couture has a bit of time left in high school, but is already looking ahead to what she might want to take on for a career.

“I want to go to college and study criminal justice to become a state trooper or a fish and wildlife trooper,” she said.

March: Audrey Gerding
April: David Hunter-Godard
May: Blaise Pindell
June: Savannah Stokes
September: Lily Hull
October: Case Hoch

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.