Volunteer of the Year Brad Moehlmann Takes His Love of Teaching Back to School

Brad Moehlmann, Southern Oregon region forester, has always enjoyed teaching — whether by mentoring colleagues or by getting involved with local high school Career and Technical Education programs.

Even though he’s a forester by training, Brad Moehlmann has always harbored an interest in being a teacher. He even considered changing careers once. Recently, he found a way to take what he’s learned in his role as region forester for Southern Oregon to create lesson plans for students at two high schools in Oregon’s south Willamette Valley.

“I really enjoy the act of teaching,” Brad says. “In fact, one of the things I like most about my job as region forester is mentoring other foresters in our southern Oregon region. I'm always looking for teaching moments; I would call myself a teacher at heart.”

Brad began his “part-time” high school teaching career in November 2022, when he was invited to make a presentation about innovations in forestry to students at Sheldon High School in Eugene, Oregon, as part of the school’s Career and Technical Education forestry program. He then worked with the instructor to help map out a curriculum plan for the remainder of the year. He enjoyed it so much that in early 2023 he met with the forestry CTE instructor at Thurston High School in nearby Springfield to help develop education opportunities there.

Image of Brad giving a presentation to a high school forestry class.

Brad gives a presentation to a high school forestry class.

Since then, Brad has organized a tour of the Cottage Grove mill for the Sheldon High School students — something he says the students “absolutely loved” since they’re focused on technology and computers. For the students at Thurston High School, Brad worked with our TOPS yard in Springfield to deliver a load of logs that could be used to teach safe chainsaw operation. He also involved his colleague Brian Spindler, harvest manager, for a class on harvest planning to help students learn about putting together a timber sale.

“Brad’s efforts have given many high school students an opportunity to learn about careers in the woods,” Brian Trenholm, Southern Oregon region manager, said when nominating Brad for our Volunteer of the Year award. “He’s working to build interest in this industry with our future workforce, making a difference by showing how the timber industry is a valuable part of local communities. He’s a great spokesperson, always ready for a new challenge and motivated to share his experiences with the next generation.”

For his dedication to youth education, Brad was named a 2023 Volunteer of the Year.

Image of Brad with his family on a trip to Mt. Jefferson with the family dog, Molly.

Brad and his family (his wife, Elizabeth, son Brandon and daughter Brooke) on a trip to Mt. Jefferson with the family dog, Molly.


Your title is Southern Oregon region forester. Tell us about your day job.

I team with the Coos Bay, South Valley and Springfield area managers to handle workflow, projects, budgets and forecasting. It’s a functional role. I essentially get to serve as a mentor for the nine foresters in the region and be a technical expert who can help answer forestry questions.

What motivates you to volunteer?

I first got involved because someone asked for my help. Education has always been an interest of mine. I’ve stayed involved because I enjoy helping students learn what a forestry career looks like — and sharing the wide variety of opportunities I’ve had within my career over the years. That resonates with high schoolers, because when they’re trying to figure out what they want to do in life, it’s hard for them to imagine doing the same thing for 30 or 40 years.

What community challenges are you trying to address with your volunteer efforts?

I’ve found that students without ties to forestry and logging aren’t often aware that we replant trees. I want them to become interested in our industry and to consider a career in forestry — but I also want to just help them understand what the profession of forestry encompasses. Our industry does a lot of good things, but we're not always seen in a positive light. We can change opinions by educating kids and our communities about what we do, and about why sustainability, citizenship and integrity are all core values. I really like it when I hear a student say, "Wow, I didn’t know that!"

Image of Brad working with Oregon foresters in his role as Sotuh Oregon EMS lead.

Brad works with Oregon foresters in his role as South Oregon EMS lead.

What’s your favorite part of volunteering?

The feeling I get after working with a class where the students were really engaged. It makes me feel good about what I just did. I’m thankful my position at Weyerhaeuser has provided me with this opportunity to reach students and educate them about forestry.

What’ve you learned by volunteering?

I've learned that I need to customize what I am teaching to the students’ different levels of interest. I’ve also gained a real appreciation for teachers. It’s a tough job! Teaching has to be something you want to do and enjoy doing; you need to be passionate about it.

What’s next in your volunteer plans for the year ahead?

I’m working on details for more mill tours and a visit to a harvest site. We’ve got more logs coming in for the Thurston High School students, and I’m working with the CTE instructor at Sheldon to help them build a greenhouse using money from a Giving Fund grant. Finally, I’m trying to motivate more people to get involved with the program. I don’t want the students to have to just listen to me all the time!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to give back but doesn't know how/where?

Keep your eyes and ears open; there are so many opportunities, and so many people within Weyerhaeuser who are passionate about volunteering. Find those people, then listen and get ideas from them. It’s also helpful to find something that interests you. I like teaching, so this was a great opportunity for me to help students understand that what we do is actually good for the environment.