Monroe, Wisconsin native Logan Wells credits his many teachers and mentors for helping him develop his academic strengths and an interest in forestry. Wells says their enduring patience and endless encouragement gave him the confidence to “dream big” and pursue his passions.

Wells, who will graduate this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Forest Science and a Certificate in Business, will continue his education in the fall at Purdue University where he will be a master’s candidate in the Wood Science Program. While at Purdue, Wells plans to research a technique that uses computer tomography to determine the best way to cut a log to maximize its value. Wells says that while a good sawyer can determine high- and low-value points in a log, this groundbreaking technique will increase the average net gain of a timber harvest and can be done on the fly without taking years of hands-on experience to master.

Wells says his interest in forestry developed while in high school where he showed an affinity for the hands-on work of wildlife, soils, agriculture and woodworking courses. In high school, he also became deeply involved with the Wisconsin Association of FFA, eventually becoming the 2013-2014 Wisconsin State FFA President during college.

As Logan learned the foundations of forestry in the classroom, he also discovered an interest in business and industry as part of his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) — a hands-on learning project that helps students apply what they’ve learned in FFA and the classroom to the real world. For his SAE, Wells established Smock Valley Timber, a portable sawmill business which not only sparked his interest in entrepreneurship but also in teaching forestry to others when the Natural Resources Conservation Service invited him to demonstrate his operation to 4th grade students from Green County.

Forestry provides myriad career options, and Wells readily admits that he has had a tough time deciding his long-term plan. However, he says that he would like to combine his interest in forestry education and the forest products industry, possibly as a wood products extension specialist, like his mentor and collegiate advisor Scott Bowe, a professor in the UW Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology.

In addition to Bowe, Wells has had an incredible network of supporters, including his agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Carmen Montgomery, technology and engineering teacher Kim Cairy, and his FFA advisor Jeff Hicken. To all of his teachers and mentors, Logan says “thank you” and he wants them to know that without their support and patience he may not be where he is today. Finally, he says that “students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” a sentiment shared by all who have benefited from the hard work and dedication of Wisconsin’s teachers.

This story was originally posted in The Leaflet