Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance, Inc.

May 2012

Just hearing the word “tick” makes my skin crawl. After spending the majority of my career in the Southern U.S., I had hoped that by moving this far North, I would finally be able to enjoy the great outdoors without these pesky little creepy crawlers. Boy was I ever wrong! As a matter of fact, I believe the tick problem is actually worse here than anywhere I’ve ever been in my life (With the exception of Southeastern Oklahoma, where grazing rights are still leased on industry lands, but that’s a different story). As it turns out, ticks are found widespread around the world. Simply put, if there’s a host, there’s a tick…or 20.

As loggers, foresters & outdoor enthusiasts, we have learned to accept ticks into our day to day routine during the warm seasons. Brad Paisley, country music superstar, has even tried to romanticize life with these pesky arachnids in his song “Ticks”, by offering to inspect all the hidden nooks and crannies of the attractive female his flirtations are directed toward in this popular tune. Speaking from experience, I have news for Mr. Paisley; if and when you actually find a critter during one of these “tick checks”, it really isn’t as provocative as he would like us to think!

As I write this little piece, I am sitting at the registration table in Harris, MI at the GLTPA Spring Celebration. This has turned in to a wildly successful event with 512 registered attendees; much more than we anticipated…OORAH! My initial thoughts are of 512 ticks, gathering in the auditorium for the sole purpose of attaching ourselves to a host / speaker. These individuals are allowing us to GORGE ourselves like a tick on their experience and knowledge for our own survival and success. Now those are some generous hosts!

One thing I don’t understand is the amount of attendees that are lingering in the hall and casino while the speakers are presenting nutrition for our business. I firmly believe that, like a tick needs to attach itself to a host for survival, we need to attach ourselves to the right people and organizations for the survival of our industry. I just want to hang up a sign on the auditorium entrance that says “Your competition is in here learning what you don’t know”. Like a tick, if we don’t make those attachments and connections, we will die. Our business will die. Our legacy that we have spent a lifetime building will die. Our industry, like a tick without a host, will dry up and die.

Up to this point, I have related the habits of the tick in a way we can mimic this creature for the good of our businesses and industry. For now, I’ll let these words sink in like the mouth parts of a Ixodes scapularis (Deer tick) to your scalp. Next month, we’ll continue our discussion on the habits of this pesky creature from the host’s perspective and how mimicking this parasitic behavior, well, sucks!

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