Itasca Community College was the host site for the 2008 Council of Eastern Forest Technician Schools (CEFTS) Conference. Educators from colleges offering two-year degree programs in forestry convened in Grand Rapids recently to compare educational methods and content, participate in forest tours led by area experts and visit the Forest History Center.College instructors from nine states and New Brunswick, Canada, attended this year's conference, providing a diverse mix of forestry regions and educational institutions. Conference host Harry Hutchins, a natural resources instructor at ICC, was pleased at the conclusion of the week. "We did what we set out to do, which was to provide a selection of tours and sessions that would best represent this area," Hutchins stated. "Feedback from those who attended was very positive. Some even said it was the best conference they've ever attended. They got a good introduction to the ecologically based forestry in this region as well as a glimpse of our state's natural beauty." Hutchins was assisted by Brad Jones, his colleague at ICC who is also a natural resources instructor.
The conference began with an informal welcome reception with ICC Provost Mike Johnson, followed by the film "Minnesota, A History of the Land, Episode V: The Northern Forest," one in a series produced by the Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota and Twin Cities Public Television with major funding provided by the Blandin and Huss Foundations.
Most of the group arrived early for a two-day pre-conference trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, where they canoed to the famous Native American pictographs on Hegman Lake and later took part in specialized tours at the International Wolf Center in Ely, led by Vermilion Community College natural resources instructor Lori Schmidt.
The conference was underwritten in large part by the Blandin Foundation's Vital Forests/Vital Communities initiative and Itasca Community College.