Applications are now being accepted at the Northwest Louisiana Technical College Sabine Valley Campus in Many for the Timber Harvesting Equipment Operator (THEO) training program beginning May 26, 2015.

The THEO program was developed in 2013 in response to the decline in the number of experienced operators of timber harvesting equipment. The average age of the logging employee is around 45 years old, and there are very few young people with the experience to get into the business. It is the hope of the THEO Advisory Committee that offering training will encourage more young people to consider a career in logging.

Area logging companies in the western portion of the state will be provided a chance to hire trained personnel. Students are CPR/First Aid and OSHA 10-Hour certified when they receive their certificates. They also take the Master Logger core courses and receive a Master Logger certification.

The THEO program is 19 weeks long and students will graduate on October 1, 2015. Much of the training is hands-on, operating the three common pieces of logging equipment: skidder, loader, and feller-buncher. The Instructors are retired logging contractors, who not only teach the students to operate the equipment, but show them how to work as a team.

Upon completion of the program, students will have accumulated 15 hours of college credit with Northwest LTC. An opportunity for additional certification in maintenance, along with 6 credit hours, is also available. This continuing coursework will be held at Northwest Louisiana Technical College’s Natchitoches Campus. There are a number of sponsorships offered to interested students by the local industry, and financial aid is available for those who qualify.

To learn more about the THEO training, contact (318) 609-1230 or visit theola.homestead.com .