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Harry Sanders stands next to a logging truck

Alumni Spotlight: Harry Sanders III

‘I thoroughly love what I do’

It’s been almost a decade since Harry Sanders graduated from Warnell and began working for his family’s logging business, Sanders Logging. But for Sanders, it seems like only yesterday he was walking through the woods at Whitehall with his classmates.

Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

“I thoroughly love what I do,” said Sanders (BSFR ’14), who earlier this year was named the Georgia Forestry Association’s Georgia Logger of the Year and then went on to receive the Forest Resource Association’s Southeast Logger of the Year.

Sanders is the third generation to work with the company, he said, but what also makes Sanders Logging unique is the crew. A lot of their employees are third-generation loggers, and many are second-generation Sanders employees. There are multiple father-son truck drivers, too. “I’ve got one guy who’s been working with my father over 40 years, and most of his sons have been with me over 10 years,” Sanders added.

While the family aspect sets the business apart, Sanders himself is also unique among loggers. He’s not only connected to Warnell through his service—he recently ended his tenure on the school’s Young Alumni Committee—but he also takes part in research projects and regularly talks with former professors to get their take on issues he encounters.

“I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with Dr. Conrad on studies, the school has brought out classes for field camp and various grad students have come out over the years,” said Sanders. The company is now participating in a study on soil compaction. “And I’ve got a summer intern from the (Master of Forest Resources) program, the first time I’ve had an internship with Warnell. Just any kind of way that I can help Warnell.”

Sanders is also active in the community, promoting careers in forestry and advocating for legislation to help the industry. For several years, he has taken part in Forestry Day hosted by Wanda and Earl Barrs—he brings a logging truck and teaches kindergarteners and fifth-graders about what he does. He’s also in the Georgia Agricultural Leaders program, where his capstone project is developing a field trip for kids to see a logging operation.

“The kids’ aspect of it is my favorite part,” he said. “But the thing I’ve been heavily involved in is the GFA efforts with truck weights.” Earlier this year, the Georgia legislature approved HB 189, which increases log truck limits from 84,000 pounds to 88,000, a limit closer to what’s in place in surrounding states.

It’s an issue that hits close to home for Sanders, though. While testifying before the state legislature isn’t a typical role for a logger, Sanders represents a new generation of loggers.

“The more we do research and figure out about the logging industry, the more we can quantify … For instance, why do we need more weight? Well, there’s studies that Warnell has done that showed legislators how going up in weight isn’t always a bad thing,” he said. “If you think about it, you’re going to have less trips through that intersection or that town. This research helps legislators see that they need to get behind it.”

It's been a good year, though—first the legislative win, then the Logger of the Year accolades. But That won’t change Sanders’ relationship with Warnell.

That relationship, he said, has been life-changing.

“I went to a community college and got my core done and transferred into Warnell. When I got accepted into the big ol’ University of Georgia, I didn’t know how I was going to take that, because I was coming from a small town” he said. “But when I got into Warnell, I saw it was no different from the other schools I went to—I saw teachers who care about you. They listened to you. And they’re interested in the same things.”

The hands-on activities—whether it’s traveling to a silviculture class or eating pizza at a forestry Club meeting—created something special, he said.

“It’s like a small family atmosphere, and you make lifelong friends,” he added. “And the forestry industry is so small, and we all know each other. Those connections and relationships are a big part of the forestry world, and I think Warnell is a big part of making that possible.”

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