I was working with a kid today shooting video for a story we’re working on. A profile piece on a first-generation forestry student. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a core sample kit but it kind of looks like a car-jack, but it drills about a pen’s width hole into the center of the tree and extracts a sample. When you look at the sample, you can see the rings all the way from the center all the way out. The core sample tells the story of the tree–the good times when the rings were wider, the droughts show the rings closer together, if the tree had ever been affected by bugs or fire. It tells the tree’s history. It also tells forest managers what the tree needs, what the forest needs, if the trees and forests have enough water. That’s kind of what I think the role of a school board member is–to constantly take core samples of the school district, see what it needs, how to restore balance. Listening to the forest is how to make our forests healthy. Listening to our public school community will make our schools healthy too.