Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance, Inc.

June 2012


Last month, TPA Magazine featured everything we would ever want to know about ticks. As a matter of fact, I even made an attempt to describe how we can mimic the survival habits of the tick for the success of your organization. The unfortunate thing about ticks, however, is the fact that they only do what is best for themselves without regard to their host.

Each life cycle of a tick requires a meal of blood before entering each subsequent life cycle. At no point does the tick give anything beneficial in return; not even a “Thank you. That was delicious”, before dropping off the host, completely engorged. In a worst case scenario, the tick will sometimes leave behind Lyme Disease, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever which, if left unchecked, will ultimately kill the host, rendering it useless for any future meals. So what’s my point in all of this?

Occasionally, I will encounter an individual with a negative attitude regarding attending Continuing Education classes, the industry / organization or life in general. I will listen intently to the complaint, fishing for clues on how I can continually improve the services we offer at FISTA / GLTPA. For the most part, when I become engaged in a conversation resulting from an unsatisfied individual, this person is usually also a non-member who has no idea what goes on behind the scenes to ensure the viability of our livelihood. As a result, tick-like behavior is demonstrated.

This type of individual is only interested in taking from its host. In large numbers, this type of attitude can “bleed out” a resource. The negativity resulting from these parasites, whether silent or vocal, can spread like a disease. This “negativity disease” then affects everything the tick comes in contact with; our employees, co-workers, organization, businesses and families all suffer.

Few individuals, even many of our members, do not realize the effort that goes into protecting our political interests and providing educational opportunities. A challenge we face as an organization is letting our members know about our past and present victories as well as the costs associated with this support structure. In addition, membership input is crucial for defining and prioritizing our future victories. Whether or not one really knows or understands why or how we do what we do, everyone benefits; member and non-member alike.

One thing is for certain, “there is strength in numbers”; even a tick knows this, which is why a female will lay over 3,000 eggs after leaving her host. Why not put a positive spin on what we do every day? Register only for Continuing Education classes that intrigue or challenge you. This year, FISTA has offered 25 different topics, not to mention the plethora of approved electives that are available. If you don’t see anything fitting this description, let us know what you want to see offered in the future.

Don’t forget to join or remain current on your GLTPA membership. Your opinions and concerns carry much more weight when you join the numbers of your fellow loggers. With your help and dedication, we can make this OUR industry, not just the industry that we support. A tick has no understanding of a “symbiotic relationship”, which is defined as a mutually beneficial relationship for both parties involved. Active membership and positive individuals make this organization stronger, with a louder voice, which makes your industry more viable and results in higher profitability and success for you. See how that works? Don’t be a tick!

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