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Bobby Goodson Helps Pitt Kick Off New Forestry Equipment Operator Course

PCC's new Forestry Equipment Operator course got off to the right start this month with Bobby Goodson speaking to students about the logging profession on the first day of classes.

GREENVILLE—For a college launching a new program to train individuals for work in the logging industry, it was only natural for Bobby Goodson to speak with students on the first day of class.

Goodson, a Jacksonville resident whose logging company is featured in the reality show “Swamp Loggers” on Discovery Channel, visited Pitt Community College’s Greenville Center April 16 to speak with students taking the college’s new Forestry Equipment Operator course.

A fourth-generation logger, Goodson is delighted that PCC is training people for work in what is unarguably a dangerous occupation.

“This here’s the best thing to come about in our industry in a long time,” he said, adding that prior to the creation of PCC’s course, the only option for new loggers was on-the-job training.

“We’ve never had any type of curriculum to train our guys what to do before they get (to the job site),” he said.

As a result, Goodson said finding qualified help has been difficult. He added that the logging industry has needed standardized training for “at least 100 years.”

According to Goodson, logging is about safety on the job, maintaining and properly operating expensive equipment, and working together to get loads of logs out of the woods. To do that well, he said his employees must be on the same page.

PCC’s new program should certainly help in that endeavor.

Last fall, the college received a $50,000-grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center to standardize a curriculum for individuals seeking employment in the logging industry. The funding was made possible through the N.C. General Assembly to help create jobs and assist projects in 51 counties.

Through the grant, PCC developed a 12-week course designed to provide technical and practical knowledge and understanding necessary to become a skilled forestry equipment operator. The 480-hour course combines online instruction with hands-on training that will result in certification from the N.C. Loggers Association and an OSHA Safety Certificate for those who complete it.

Caterpillar donated $1.25 million work of equipment to be used during the course’s field training component, and Greenville’s Gregory Poole Equipment Company is providing maintenance for that machinery.

Though the timber industry has slowed in recent years, Goodson said further development of biomass as a renewable energy source would help business pick back up. And when the economy rebounds, he said logging jobs would certainly be in demand.