NACOGDOCHES, Texas –– The Sylvans, Stephen F. Austin State University’s forestry club and timbersports team, claimed top honors at the 64th annual Southern Forestry Conclave, marking the fifth consecutive conclave SFA has been crowned. The event was hosted by Louisiana Tech University March 9-11 at the Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston, Louisiana.
The accomplishment marks the eighth win of the past nine conclaves and 17 wins total.
“I told the team going into this year’s Conclave there was only one team we needed to worry about this year – SFA,” said Dr. Jeremy Stovall, Bone Hill Distinguished Professor of Silviculture and Sylvans faculty advisor. “Winning the previous four conclaves wasn’t by chance. We’d put in the practice, worked hard to earn and raise money for the right equipment, did our homework, and learned our events inside and out.”
“The Sylvans team has the right culture and is focused on collegiality, fun and sportsmanship,” he continued. “We all bought in and truly worked together as a team. The significance of claiming top honors at this year’s conclave validated our core beliefs: we have one of the best undergraduate forestry programs in the country, the best students and a successful club culture.”
Consisting of 28 students — and with the help of Stovall, 10 alumni and the team’s coach, Chelsea Lopez — the Sylvans scored 293.5 points overall. Clemson University placed second with 236 points. The margin of victory stands as the largest in the event’s 64 years, according to Stovall. Louisiana Tech University finished in third place with 216.5 points.
The Sylvans finished first in both physical and technical events. The physical events are based on the historical logging and forestry events, using tools such as axes or saws. Technical events are based on subjects learned in forestry courses, testing the academic preparation of the students and their ability to recall and deploy information in the field.
Along with the hours of work the competitors practiced to reach their goal, which totaled more than 100 practices in an academic year, Stovall credits this year’s win to something more special: the team’s camaraderie.
“The students genuinely love learning about the events and working with each other as a team to see how good they can become,” he said. “They teach and coach each other, and they are all each other’s biggest fans. The level of sportsmanship they displayed with each other and in support of the other clubs was really phenomenal. As an advisor, I’ve got it easy with this group. I trust them and know they’ll do everything they can to succeed. They’ve made me work harder so I don’t let them down.”