For generations, Walter E. Chandler’s family worked the land in the Adirondacks, as farmers, miners and loggers. In fact Walter’s grandfather Ernest Chandler was an Adirondack guide. So when Chandler enrolled in the Forestry and Conservation class at the F. Donald Myers Education Center, he already had a lot of experience.
Under the tutelage of Wayne Youngs, Chandler learned a lot more – enough to start his own business at age 23. Now, 20 years later, Walter E. Chandler Forestry Services LLC in Greenfield Center is still thriving.
“My goal was always to own my own business,” said Chandler who is also a councilman in Greenfield Center and a member of the Empire State Forest Products Association. “I wanted to gain as much knowledge as possible. BOCES gave me a broad-based learning opportunity. Mr. Youngs taught me so much more of the field work and the business end.”
In addition to the education, Chandler said Mr. Youngs cultivated a strong camaraderie among the students. When Chandler’s mother was in a car accident his classmates supported him with cards and letters.
He said the students, including current teacher Dennis Flynn, were close because they spent so much time together in the field and at competitions – both Future Farmers of America and Skills USA.
“I’ll never forget those competitions,” said Chandler. “We did log rolling and tree identification. We brought home trophies. It was fun, but it was a huge learning experience.”
Chandler says he’s very proud of the training that takes place at the Myers Education Center. That’s why he tries to give back as often as possible. In years past he has taken on interns from varies BOCES classes, helping the students to fulfill their Work-Based Learning requirement.
“They are always respectful and eager to learn,” he said. “They always listen closely.”
Chandler also goes into Flynn’s class whenever asked. He speaks to the students about the business, state guidelines, and truck registrations and fees.
“I will come in any time because the school is amazing,” he said.
So amazing, that he thought both of his sons should attend. His son Nicholas graduated in the Heavy Equipment program and his son Walker will be attending the Heavy Equipment program in the fall. His wife, Michelle, is also a WSWHE BOCES graduate in Culinary Arts. Aaron Chandler, Walt’s cousin, also graduated from Automotive Technology and has been working with him for the past several years. All of them work together to help run the business.
“I strongly suggest attending a program at BOCES, it is a great experience and a good chance to learn how to start your career
“If you attend a program at BOCES, you will have a huge jump on your career and education.”