Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance, Inc.

April 2012

A Tough Bunch

Loggers are some of the most enduring, intelligent and proud people I know, and rightfully so. We are a tough breed that seems to survive, and sometimes succeed with many odds and ends of the business world against us. We expect the same enduring toughness out of everything we own, from our equipment to our clothing. Loggers aren’t a social group that typically falls into fashion trends. Our daily attire is made up of things that last through the elements just like we do, and when we find something that works, we stick with it. In our industry, whether it be plaid and suspenders or grease stains on wear-and-tear, we never go out of style. Somewhere in the early 1980’s, however, a light, spring-time jacket came on the scene as a “must have” for any dapper gentleman; the “Member’s Only” jacket. This thin, light, hood-less garment had no practicality for any self-respecting logger, even for a Saturday night on the town with the wife.

While the clothing labeled “Member’s Only” may not hold any value for the logger, the phrase should actually mean quite a lot. As the FISTA Training Coordinator, I answer dozens of questions every week about SFI Certification classes; the time, location, content and cost of these classes are on the minds of every logger this time of year when the schedules show up in the mailbox. One of the topics that usually generate some interesting discussion is the difference between training costs of GLTPA members and non-members.

While the reduced cost of SFI training through FISTA is one of the most recognized benefits of GLTPA membership, it actually is probably the least costly of all the benefits offered to members only. In addition, many folks, members and non-members alike, do not even know why there is a difference in training costs.

It costs the same “per head” to offer SFI training through FISTA. However, grant funding from SFI is provided to professional organizations like GLTPA and FISTA to offer the minimum training standards at an offset cost. Doesn’t it sound fair that only the members of professional organizations take advantage of the benefits that these groups provide? Training isn’t the only advantage to being a member of your professional organization. Other benefits available for members only include: Monthly subscription to TPA magazine, Free pass to Lake States Logging Congress, Personalized help with local, state and federal agency issues, Spring conferences for new initiatives and ideas, as well as up-to-the-minute e-newsletter updates. 

A surprising fact, is that the most valuable benefit to becoming a member of your professional organization impacts not just members only, but also non-members. Lobbying efforts on local, state & federal levels influence the happenings that affect every aspect of our industry and how we do business. Your professional organization are the eyes and ears that catch the curve balls coming down the political pipeline as well as ensure that our renewable resources are managed in a way that provide jobs and stability to our communities for generations to come. I believe Steve Sherich, logger and President of the American Logger's Council put it best in his article As We See It, when he said "There is not a whole lot of difference between taking a welfare check for not working and reaping the benefits from your State association without joining".

In a nutshell, both FISTA and GLTPA are non-profit organizations. Every penny that comes into these organizations go back out in some form of benefit to ALL loggers. As your resource, we do what we do not for personal gain, but to act as the voice for the logging industry; simply because we believe in not just the survival, but ultimately the sustainability and growth of this industry from the ground up. Without this well managed resource as well as the GLTPA's prominent voice in our industry, I couldn't imagine the additional hardships & difficulties todays loggers would be enduring.

With a mild winter, and what looks like an early Spring upon us, maybe a “Members Only” jacket would come in handy, but I believe the members only benefits provided to the professionals of our organization are better suited for the season.

Ben Parsons, FISTA Training Coordinator, is originally from West “By God”, Virginia as they say in that part of the Appalachian Mountains. His family’s deeply rooted philosophy of living off the land was monumental in deciding to earn a degree in Forest Management from West Virginia University.  Throughout his career, Ben has had the opportunity to tackle a wide variety of assignments.  He measured Forest Inventory and Analysis research plots in Virginia and Georgia, been involved with urban and utility forestry operations throughout the Appalachian region, procured lowland hardwood timber in the swamps of South Georgia, managed logging contracts and harvest operations in Arkansas and specialized in water quality and harvest planning as well as fighting forest fires in Virginia. As FISTA Training Coordinator, helping to meet your safety and educational needs is the number one priority here at FISTA.  For more information, contact Ben at 800-551-2656 or