Mississippi's largest industry may face tougher times ahead. A recent study suggests that in a few years the 14 billion dollar a year forestry and forestry products industry will suffer a shortage of qualified employees.
Mississippi State University is traveling across the state to teach children not only about the many uses of wood, but to get them excited about a possible career in forestry. Since 1996 the Wood Magic Science Fair has traveled to schools around the state.
Students learn that things like sponges, imitation flavoring, and even toothpaste all contain wood products. The innovative teaching style seems to grab and hold the kids attention. Coordinator David Headley said "We use the students in the demonstrations and we use the teachers.
The kids that are in the audience are cheering the others on and there's a lot of noise and a lot of interaction going on." Forestry experts say whether the children want to be engineers or computer whizzes there is room for them in the state's largest industry. "We've got the equipment to get these kids ready to fill those jobs.
What we are hoping to do is excite them about the idea that's it's not just about the woods and trees but there is whole world of things that they can do," said Headley. Educators hope once the kid's get a taste for the industry they will consider forestry as way of making a living.