Forest Industry Safety & Training Alliance, Inc.

Ben Parsons, FISTA Training CoordinatorSeptember 2013

How do you see C.E.?

Regardless of what you do or who you are, continuing education is a wonderful thing.  On the surface, continuing education is voluntary exposure to educational material, in order to improve knowledge or success.  Continuing education is for the main purpose of improving who we are and building on what we know to help others, or ourselves.  I’m a firm believer that it helps improve our business, our relationships, our outlook, well-being and overall quality of life, not simply our knowledge.  Some companies and organizations believe in the benefits of continuing education to such a degree, that it is a requirement.

The great thing about continued education is that when we learn about something, it also gives us a sense of achievement when we have learned something new or picked up a new skill.  Continued education doesn’t only have to focus in the workplace.  We can also choose to continue our education about a new skill, travel destination or hobby.  A truly successful person strives to continually educate themselves because they believe in always having room for improvement. 

Increasing your overall knowledge is only half of the equation.  Applying that knowledge is where we reap the benefits.  Whatever the topic, continuing education is one way to obtain “you-improvement”.  Unfortunately, there are those who don’t agree with me.  Once, I heard a participant refer to a required continuing education course as a “continuing aggravation” course.  It’s all in what we make of it. 

As you know, FISTA is a source of continuing education for those participating in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) program.  Many individuals participating in FISTA classes are there simply to satisfy education requirements set by the SFI standard (because we know where we’ll be taking wood).  But while we know where we take the wood, do we know where the wood goes?  Do we really know the end user?  How many of us have taken the initiative to continue our education in that aspect?  Diving in to SFI’s website at is a good start.
SFI has done their homework to really get to know the end user and what they want.  As a result, we have the 3rd party SFI forest certification program.  As a logger, whether or not you agree with the need for a third party certification program, it’s here to stay.  There have been many benefits to our industry as a result of SFI, whether you think so or not.  Relating this to continuing education, it boils down to this; “Think for yourself, or someone will do it for you”.  Regardless of individual opinions, we can’t argue that being involved in the present is how we influence our future. 
On a personal note:  Last week, I spent 2 days with STIHL going through their Silver Level MasterWrench® Service Training.  This isn’t something I HAVE to do, but it makes me better at WHAT I do.  As with any continuing education, I learned that there are things that I now know, that I didn’t know before.  The more I learn, the more I learn there are things I don’t know, and the more I know, the more I know there are things I didn’t know I need to learn, but should!
So when you think about continued education, are you thinking continued aggravation?  Or are you thinking of self-improvement, relationship improvement, business improvement, community improvement, industry improvement, economic improvement, and even National improvement.  The truth is, continued education can and will lead to improvement on every scale I just mentioned, and it only has to start with two, simple individuals; me, and you.
I would encourage you to visit the following link to learn what “Joe Public” thinks of the continuing education loggers experience for SFI purposes:

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