Union Mine High School graduate Elizabeth “Liz” Bailey is the youngest member of the Amador-El Dorado Forest Forum. She has been warmly welcomed and encouraged to pursue a career in forestry.
Some things have not changed since the Forest Forum was organized in November 1941.
In a manuscript donated to the University of California, Berkeley, by Woodbridge “Woody” Metcalf, he tells about some of the early meetings.
“Anyone working or interested in forestry, logging, sawmilling, farming, cattle ranching, or any other interest in conservation in its many forms was automatically a member of the forum simply by coming to the meeting.”
That is true today.
The membership has changed, however. In 1941 all the members were men. Today women have joined as forest rangers, supervisors, educators, farmers, ranchers, logging business owners and natural resource scientists.
Bailey was invited to join the local Forest Forum by its secretary, Diane Dealey Neill, during Career Day at Union Mine High School.
Bailey was 17 at the time, the youngest member by at least two decades. She became a regular member, often smiling and looking amused as she listened to stories told by the old-timers.
Bailey graduated from high school on Dec. 17. She was admitted to California State University, Humboldt in Arcata, the alma mater of many of the Forest Forum members, where the university mascot is the Lumberjack.
She will start spring semester there on Jan. 11, four days after her 18th birthday on Jan. 7.
Bailey said she has always enjoyed being outside in the woods and on the coast.
“I’ve always been good at science and I’ve always been curious about the inner workings of our world,” she said.
She first learned about forestry on a Website.
In the early days of the Forest Forum, when additional funds were needed, members “passed the hat.” That was done again at the last meeting of the Forest Forum that Bailey attended before heading north.
The hat was passed after dinner at the Twisted Fork Restaurant in Sutter Creek on the evening of Dec. 14, and President Matt Waverly handed more than $120 in cash and coin to Bailey for her initial expenses.
Secretary Neill presented her with a dark green Forest Forum T-shirt to add to her college wardrobe.
Bailey gave a heartfelt thank you to the members, grateful not only for their friendship, but also for their willingness to be mentors in the future.
Later, she said, “I have made so many wonderful contacts through this group, it’s almost surreal. I tried to communicate to my friends how cool this group is, that it’s not just some group of random people interested in the same thing. The Forest Forum is a professional group of people, many who are big names in the world of forestry and environmental sciences in the state of California. By being the only current student in this group, I have landed myself in the spotlight of a huge number of possible references and employers. Not only do I have all these really important people to myself, I also have their support and advice. This group has been great; I have met a lot of great people who are knowledgeable and kind.”
If Bailey continues her forestry studies, she will be eligible for an Edwin F., Lila and Lyle Smith Memorial Forestry Scholarship from the Amador-El Dorado Forest Forum for the last two years of her bachelor of science program.