Twenty five hundred "Lumberjacks" are graduating from Northern Arizona University today. Of course, the Lumberjack is the NAU mascot. But, among them is a real lumberjack. Forester David Gouveia is a timbersports champion.
Gouveia says "You really just swing an axe between your feet, or it's as if you're felling a tree. So, it's pretty
basic techniques, although it can get really technical once you start competing at a higher level."
Gouveia is on NAU's Logging Sports Team. It competes against other forestry clubs. He's won the regional competition and placed 3rd in the nation this year for swinging blades. "We practice and try and be as safe as we can," Gouveia says. "But things always happen. We've never had any major injuries, but it can be dangerous."
Academically, Gouveia is as sharp as his axe - he's nearly a straight A student in silviculture and forestry. In his fieldwork, Gouveia calculates the volume of wood in tree stands, and identifies which trees to remove - or keep - in order to cultivate a healthy forest.
"It's nice to go out and mark an area or stand, and come back the next year and see, after they've logged it, the kind of effects," Gouveia says. "And you can see, oh, I saved that tree, and why, and see how it's doing. It's pretty interesting and complex."
As he graduates, Gouveia will relocate to the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota for his new job as a forester. He says, "I really like going home at the end of the day feeling like I've done something. So, you know, being outside and hiking around is good. Plus you get to see results right away."
He also plans to make his mark in the world of professional timbersports; a Lumberjack through and through.