Freshman Retreat – Class of 2022

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While most college freshman were dazed from their first three days on campus, the Paper Science and Engineering Class of 2022 was embarking on a learning experience they won’t soon forget. This year the Freshman Retreat visited the International Paper facility in Franklin, Virginia learning how fluff pulp is made.

The new assembly of PSE students ventured out on August 24 to the Airfield 4-H Conference Center in Wakefield, VA. This retreat guaranteed to be both a rewarding and special event and serves as just one example of the time and energy the College of Natural Resources is willing to devote to the PSE freshman.

Looking Forward to the Future

After eating dinner and settling in at the camp, the freshman introduced themselves to one another and were challenged to learn as many facts about their group members as possible in a few minutes. They were then challenged to work together as a team to move a marble 30 feet into a cup with only five wooden tracks. The freshman quickly learned the value of working together and communicating effectively to achieve their goal. The rest of the evening was turned over to Dr. Med Byrd and Jennifer Piercy to talk about professional development and what to expect in a paper mill.

International Paper Mill Visit

Freshman retreat On Saturday, students were greeted by the generous folks from International Paper and placed in groups for the tour of the mill.  The students were soon asking questions about lime kilns and digesters and gathering all the pertinent facts for their presentations. The tour involved touring the wood yard, the fiberline, the recovery boiler, and the fluff machine. Throughout the tour questions were flying as many future engineers got their first taste of the paper industry. Back at the retreat center, the students worked under pressure to create a presentation that displayed their new knowledge of the mill including key equipment, overall objectives of the mill, and safety practices.

Teamwork and Challenge Courses

To wrap up the weekend the students practiced some of the life skills they learned at a challenge course that was wonderfully staffed by the Airfield 4-H Center. Challenges included trust falls, tight-rope walks, and wall climbs, and emphasized values of teamwork and communication. After the challenges, it was time to pack in and return to campus. The trip proved to be a lighthearted and enjoyable experience that provided life long lessons. The freshman class, no longer strangers, but friends re-affirmed in their choice of major, will never forget this year’s freshman retreat.


By guest blogger Kable Young