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Forest Technology Student Receives Memorial Scholarship

A forest technology student at Pennsylvania College of Technology has received a scholarship from a fund that memorializes a longtime regional leader in the lumber industry.

Harley R. Heichel, of Wellsboro, received the $1,000 award from the Richard P. Lauchle Forestry Scholarship Fund created by the Keystone Wood Products Association and administered by the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania. The check was presented during the association’s recent annual membership dinner, held at The Watson Inn in Watsontown.

Penn College student Harley R. Heichel, a forest technology major from Wellsboro, celebrates her $1,000 industry scholarship with (from left) Cam Koons, Keystone Wood Products Association;  Erich R. Doebler, laboratory assistant for forest technology; and forestry instructor Eric C. Easton. (Photo provided)
Penn College student Harley R. Heichel, a forest technology major from Wellsboro, celebrates her $1,000 industry scholarship with (from left) Cam Koons, Keystone Wood Products Association; Erich R. Doebler, laboratory assistant for forest technology; and forestry instructor Eric C. Easton. (Photo provided)

“Harley is an excellent student who has a sound commitment to the forest industry,” said Erich R. Doebler, laboratory assistant for forest technology at Penn College’s Schneebeli Earth Science Center. “Her abilities will be greatly utilized wherever she goes within the industry.”

Lauchle graduated at the top of Williamsport Area Community College’s first forest technology class, worked for Weyerhaeuser in Washington state, and was a deputy warden and forester with the Pennsylvania Game Commission. In 1974, he founded Lauchle Lumber, operating it daily until his death in 2008.

The scholarship fund, formed through donations from the Lauchle family, private individuals and trade organizations, honors someone of high moral character, with integrity, leadership, academic achievement and a strong work ethic. Applicants are also required to submit an essay describing their passion for forest stewardship and their plan to impact the future of the forest/wood products industry.

Heichel’s submission recapped formative experiences as the daughter of a logger and her school-age assignments with the Pennsylvania Game Commission and state Bureau of Forestry – where she shadowed a female forester and happily affirmed that the job knows no gender – before confidently concluding, “I know for sure this is the career choice that I belong in.”

“My first semester … has been exciting because I have learned so much and realized that I truly love my career choice,” she wrote. “I am learning to do the things that I watched foresters do. I have run chain saw, skidder, bulldozer (and) loaded a logging truck. I had classes in botany and forest mensuration. I took dendrology last semester and have learned the identification of Eastern trees. This semester, I am also learning forest ecology, photogrammetry and surveying.”

She also joined the Woodsman’s Team and the Wildcat Dance Team, adding to her specific skill set, fostering a sense of campus pride and camaraderie, and reflecting the well-rounded aspects of her profession of choice.

“When I tell people that I am going to be a forester, they often say, ‘Oh, you are going to cut down trees.’ Being a forester is not cutting down trees; it is managing the forest. Sometimes, this involves removing the unhealthy trees and healthy trees. Sometimes, even healthy trees get overcrowded and keep the other trees from being able to grow,” Heichel said. “Also, being a forester is not just managing the trees in the forest, but also the wildlife. Foresters also provide food plots for the wildlife that will nourish them and keep them away from the young growing trees.”

The Harrisburg-based Keystone Wood Products Association includes members from the lumber industry, as well as its widespread business and service providers. The association strives to strengthen and expand the wood-products manufacturing base in Pennsylvania.

For more about the School of Transportation & Natural Resources Technologies’ forest technology major, call 570-327-4516.

For information about Penn College, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.