CLEMSON – Following a two-year stretch of earning second place, the Clemson Forestry Club broke away and earned top honors in the Association of Southern Forestry Club’s 59th annual conclave.

Clemson Forestry Club winners win first place in the ASFC 59th Annual Conclave

Clemson Forestry Club members celebrate a first-place win in the Association of Southern Forestry Clubs 59th Annual Conclave.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway/Clemson University

The conclave, hosted by the Clemson Forestry Club, was held at the Denver Downs Farm in Anderson, March 17-20. A total of 274 students from 15 schools, as well as alumni, faculty and staff in the southern region attended the student-led event. Don Hagan, Clemson club adviser, credits Clemson Forestry Club members with both winning first place and coordinating and conducting a successful conclave.

“We have strong leadership in our club,” said Hagan, stressing this is just the eighth time the conclave has been won by the school hosting it. “The members were really invested in this conclave. They organized practices and made sure everyone was prepared to compete. They did all of the planning and they organized everything. There was total dedication across the board.”

Jesse Burdett, club president and a senior, said Clemson club members started planning the 2016 conclave in October 2014.

“We knew it was going to be a lot of work,” Burdett said. “We started by researching venues to determine a place that would have ample space and facilities to hold an event of this magnitude. We also worked with the (Clemson University) legal department to develop contracts, acquire insurance, as well as other things we needed to do to make sure everything was legal. We also worked with caterers to get food for the venue. Everything was done by students.”

The students also raised money to pay for the event, Burdett said.

Clemson was host for theAssociation of Southern Forestry Clubs 59th Annual Conclave held at Denver Downs Farm in Anderson.

Clemson was host for theAssociation of Southern Forestry Clubs 59th Annual Conclave held at Denver Downs Farm in Anderson.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway/Clemson University

“Everything on site was done by students in our forestry club,” he said. “Club members chopped all of the wood that was needed. They determined the areas where the different competitions would be held. They cleaned. They did everything. They were a great group to work with.”

The conclave consisted of 22 events in both technical and traditional timbersport (physical) categories. Clemson took first place in technical events and second in physical events, earning first place overall. Stephen F. Austin University, which has won the past three conclaves, took first place in the physical event category.

“Stephen F. Austin always brings a strong team and we knew they would be tough to beat,” Hagan said. “I believe winning first place in the technical events reflects the strength of the (forestry) academic program here at Clemson. I’m really proud to see our students do well.”

Top Clemson team members’ results and hometowns are:

First Place

  • Photogrammetry – Lee Long, Bowling Green
  • Pole Classification – R. J. Greenthaler, Gilbert
  • Archery – Tim Brady, Easley
  • Log Chop – Jesse Burdett, Piedmont
  • Pole Felling – Tyler Visin, Greenville

Second Place

  • Chain Throw – Jesse Burdett, Piedmont, and Evan Ledford, Spartanburg
  • Women’s Crosscut – Shay Sayers, Greenville, and Elaine Snowberger, Fort Mill

Third Place

  • Compass and Pacing – Ben Hall, Gilbert
  • DBH Estimation – Michael Kantz, North Augusta
  • Axe Throw – Ryan Bair, Neeses
  • Men’s Bow Saw – Michael Kantz, North Augusta
  • Log Rolling – Kemp Wilson, Lowrys and R.J. Greenthaler, Gilbert
  • Men’s Crosscut – Jesse Burdette, Piedmont, and Evan Ledford, Spartanburg
  • Pole Climbing – Preston Durham, Inman

Fourth Place

  • Dendrology – Preston Durham, Inman

Greg Yarrow, chairman and professor of the Clemson forestry and environmental conservation department, complimented Clemson club members on their achievements.

“I cannot be more proud of our students for the hard work and professionalism they displayed,” Yarrow said. “This event has raised the bar for future conclaves. The conclave exemplified the best of Clemson in our students and the bright future ahead.”

Jeremy Stovall, a Clemson graduate and current associate professor of silviculture and adviser for the Stephen F. Austin, also commended Clemson Forestry Club members.

“The 312 points Clemson members scored is the fifth highest ever recorded in the 59 years of conclave,” Stovall said. “Only eight times in 59 years has the host school won. The Clemson team isn’t just a great team, it is an all-time great team. We all had a lot of fun and everything ran very smoothly the entire time. All of the efforts and thoughtful planning were evident throughout. Most of our students who have been to other conclaves said this was their favorite one so far. Clemson has set a very high bar for us for next year and I hope we’ll be able to put on a conclave as successful as this one was.”

In addition to conclave events, some of the students also participated in the Stihl Collegiate Timbersports Championship. Held in conjunction with the conclave, this competition has become another tradition of the annual meeting. Kemp Wilson, a sophomore, gave Clemson its first win in the Stihl competition. Wilson placed first in three of the four events. He travels to Chicago this summer to compete in the National Stihl Collegiate Timbersports Championship. Wilson won the Underhand Chop, Standing Block and Single Buck categories. The Stock Saw category was the only event he didn’t win.

Kemp Wilson (yellow shirt), a sophomore member of the Clemson Forestry Club, gave Clemson its first win in the Stihl competition. This competition was held in conjunction with theAssociation of Southern Forestry Clubs 59th Annual Conclave.

Kemp Wilson (yellow shirt), a member of the Clemson Forestry Club, gave Clemson its first win in the Stihl competition. This competition was held in conjunction with the Association of Southern Forestry Clubs 59th Annual Conclave.
Image Credit: Denise Attaway/Clemson University

“I am thrilled with the win in the Southern qualifier and honored to have the opportunity to represent Clemson University and my club at the National Championship in Chicago this July,” Wilson said. 

Wilson’s win comes as a result of hard work and dedication.

“Kemp is a natural,” Hagan said. “He has tremendous talent, but he also puts in a lot of practice. We are very proud of him and his accomplishments.”

Wilson’s father, Joey Wilson, said Kemp and his older brother, Griff, a senior at North Carolina State University, have always enjoyed forestry and agriculture. Kemp Wilson joined the forestry club when he got to Clemson.

“They grew up on a farm in Lowrys where they worked crops and cattle and cut firewood to sell,” Joey Wilson said. “Even though he is an agricultural mechanization and business major, Kemp grew up with an interest in timber and tree planting. Griff introduced Kemp to timbersports. This is a great activity that involves wonderful people.”

The conclave started in 1958. It is the annual meeting and competition between forestry schools in the southeastern United States. Its purpose is to promote cooperation and friendly competition among the schools to establish and maintain a high standard of ethics among students and professional foresters.

The conclave host site rotates among its member forestry schools. The 2017 conclave takes place March 16-18 at Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas. Stovall left the Clemson team with a friendly challenge.

“Enjoy some much deserved rest,” Stovall said. “We look forward to seeing you all next year in Texas.”