- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) - In the classroom, Emily Grotbo is learning how to manage and protect forests.

At the Timber Carnival, she’s learning how to chop ‘em up.

The irony isn’t lost on her.

“Luckily, most of the trees we chop are from private lands,” Grotbo said.

Grotbo, 24, studies forestry at the University of Montana in Missoula and works a summer logging job in Montana. The Condon-native drove with teammates Eric Holberg, 31, and Clay Stephenson, 23, from Montana to compete in the Go Fourth Timber Carnival, a series of sawing, chopping and agility events. The decades-old competition attracts teams from all of the Pacific Northwest, California and Montana and hosts world champions.

Grotbo said studying forestry and competing in timber sports is a popular combination at the University of Montana, where 15-20 students practice and compete together on the Woodsman Team.

Holberg, 31, is the team coach. In addition to running regularly, he and his team prepare on an obstacle course he has at his home.

Grotbo, who graduates this fall with her bachelor’s in forestry, was introduced to Stephenson and Holberg through the team. Stephenson and Holberg both graduated with their bachelor’s in forestry and work in the logging industry in Montana.

Though still an amateur, Grotbo said she’ll keep competing and hopes to secure a career in forestry. She said she likes the family feel of the competitions best.

“They’re all teachers,” she said of her fellow competitors. “Everyone treats each other like family.”

Grotbo’s love for the forest and her zeal for timber sports began much earlier. As a littler girl, she and her brother would watch her father, a Montana logger, chop down the perfect Christmas tree from a snow-laden tree farm.

“(I loved) the fact that we could watch dad run a chainsaw,” she said. “My brother and I looked like colorful marshmallows just trying to keep up with his long legs.”

Grotbo said she likes the sport because it keeps her fit and active in the forest and is exciting because it’s risky.

“I’ve never been very athletic,” she said. “I think it’s kind of like my secret.”

Though it’s a popular sport on campus, the three teammates joke that it isn’t as big as Montana’s football team.

“It will be,” Stephenson said assuredly.


Information from: The Daily News, https://www.tdn.com

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