2014 Indiana Logger of the Year

By Ken Day


Oden Sawmill, Inc. is the 2014 Indiana Logger of the Year.  Specifically Gabriel Swartzentruber was selected for his leadership and professionalism in carrying out logging operations, dedication to protecting forest resources, positive relationships with landowners and foresters, attention to safety, and volunteer activities.  Oden Sawmill staff was recognized at the Tree Farm Breakfast at the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association convention in Indianapolis on March 11, 2015.


His professionalism in carrying out logging operations was demonstrated by minimizing skinned trees and damage to crop trees, correct installation of water bars, grading skid roads, keeping ditches and streams free of debris, keeping the log yard free of pollution, and providing a safe and accident free work environment. 


Swartzentruber has taken all Cutter Training Coursers 1 – 4 and Skidder Level 1 Course sponsored by Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association and Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Forestry.  He has also attended Best Management Practices training hosted by IDNR, and is trained in Medic First Aide and is certified in CPR.


He cuts all timber with a chain saw using wedges and directional felling to protect the residual stand.  The logging roads are laid out prior to logging to minimize the area in skid roads, protect crop trees, and protect water resources.  A dozer with a 6-way blade is used to construct skid trails, road grading, and constructing water bars to prevent erosion.


Since the Swartzentruber’s own a sawmill and run a pallet operation, they can utilize more top logs with smaller diameters.  Nothing is wasted in the sawmill operations.  Even the sawdust is utilized for pulp or animal bedding.  Their annual production is about 2.5 million board feet (Doyle log rule) per year. 


Swartzentruber and his family helped satisfy a request from the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a boy with cancer.  The boy’s request was to help an active logging crew.  They took the boy for an entire day.  The boy rode in a skidder while dragging logs, helped load the logs on a truck, ride in the log truck to deliver the logs to the mill, and help unload the logs.  Other volunteer activities include planting tree seedlings and working on the large trees in the Odon City Park.


The Indiana Logger of the Year award is sponsored by Indiana Tree Farm.  Recognition of outstanding professionalism in sustainable forestry practices is one of their objectives.  Education is the other objective.  Awardees are selected by the Indiana Tree Farm Committee which is composed of 29 members representing a cross section of forestry professionals in the state.



Ken Day is retired Forest Supervisor of the Hoosier National Forest.