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Restoring a species helps students, too

The Lumber to Legacy program in Albany, Ore., raises money to support the city’s white oak restoration efforts by having fallen or downed trees manufactured into auction items.

Students' work for the auction included bowls, cafe chairs and a guitar.

Students are also benefitting from the program in tangible ways. They’re sawing the logs into lumber, building auction items and learning from generous local craftsman.

“When trees have to come down or fall naturally, the lumber is harvested with the help of many volunteers,” says Ed Hodney, director of Albany’s Parks and Recreation Department, which is the developer of the program. “It’s offered to woodworkers willing and able to produce neat pieces that can then be sold.”

Gary Rogowski (seated) with visiting students at the Northwest Woodworking Studio.

One of those is Gary Rogowski, director of Northwest Woodworking Studio, a school in Portland, Ore.

“He invited 10 students to his shop last year to help produce café chairs of his design, which were sold at auction last November,” Hodney says.

“What was so much fun was to see how engaged these students were,” Rogowski wrote on the school’s website about the visit. “No fear and no self-consciousness about their skills. They were here to learn, here to build. They also were willing to hear me talk about geometry and why it was important. To hear me talk about design and the several aspects of a good chair design. To try their hands at hand tool work. To learn about staining wood with an ebonizing solution. They loved it. It just goes to show what value kids place on being treated like adults. They have curious and vigorous minds and it was my pleasure to show them a little in those two days.”

Auction funds are also used to support the city’s year-round student internship program. But the bulk, of course, goes to the city’s efforts to enhance the existing Oregon white oak habitat and to re-establish the species in publicly protected conservation areas. For information, visit

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue.

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