A millennial with a real passion for logging

Wednesday 11 Oct 2017

With some stirrings now locally to finally do something about the skills shortages out in the forest and to address the real issue of attracting younger people into forestry, in particular logging, this story and footage from a young logger out of the US, we hope stirs some interest.

With the goal in mind to one day own his own logging company, 25-year-old Zackary Sheets operates a computer-automated processor, picking up a log, stripping it of its bark, cutting it to length and stacking it all while sitting inside the machine. Sheets was working on a logging site in Canyonville this summer for Gold Hill-based Estremado Logging. He lives in Glendale during the week, then commutes to his house in Albany for the weekends.

Though Sheets said logging companies have been struggling to recruit young people to work in the woods, he’s passionate about what he does. “That’s the path I’ve chosen. I saw where everybody was running and I ran the other way, which is modern forestry technology,” Sheets said. “It’s a mix of technology but still has a hard work aspect to it.”

Sheets is not only a Douglas County logger but has experience logging around the U.S. and the world. “I randomly stumbled across an advertisement for loggers who wanted to work in an extreme environment, and it seemed perfect for me,” he said. Three months after he applied, he found himself on a plane to Siberia. He spent six months there, working in harsh conditions while the Discovery Channel filmed him for the show, “Siberian Cut.” “It’s important to show kids the positive sides to working hard,” he said of starring in the show.

Last summer, he logged in Alaska for his stepfather Fred Hurt’s gold mining operation. Hurt, known as “Dakota Fred,” has also been featured on the Discovery Channel show “Gold Rush.” Through the Siberian trip, Sheets met Pekka Ruuskanen, the president of Ponsse for North America. Ponsse, a Finnish company with its North American headquarters in Wisconsin, manufactures and sells harvesters and foresters.

He said operating the machinery is like playing a big video game, using buttons to control the equipment, and he questions why more people in his generation aren’t interested in it. “If you have any work ethic and if you like video games, you would like running a processor,” Sheets said.

But according to Sheets, it’s hard to find other young people who want to do the work. “It seems nowadays people want to float through life,” Sheets said, adding he knows some people his age who want to get rich quickly by selling marijuana or drugs, but they don’t want to put in hard work.

“They don’t want to get their hands dirty,” said Don Walker, a contractor working with Sheets in Canyonville. Walker has been working in the woods for 54 years and cutting timber for 40 of them. When Walker’s generation retires, which could be within the next decade, the industry will need new loggers. “If we don’t have new guys coming up to take over these jobs and stay on top of how things are changing, we’re going to be in trouble,” Sheets said.

Check out the full story by clicking here. Featured below is also a video, just some of the footage that Zackary Sheets has taken and posted that will appeal to the young millennials.

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