NFO 2024

VSU forestry students talked about how their teamwork dynamics and excellent training from the Department of Forest Science (DFS) and College of Forestry and Environmental Science (CFES) served as their competitive edge after being declared as third runner-up in the overall 14th National Forestry Olympiad (NFO) held at the University of Philippines Los Baños this year.

The VSU Team composed of Whyz Calimbayan, Ma. Yvonne Palo, Jerome Lagahit, and Aaron Ken Lastimado were headed and guided by their coach Prof. Anatolio Polinar. They competed with 21 other state universities and colleges (SUCs) in the country, where they secured the first runner-up in Forest Surveying and landed third place in Leaf Identification, respectively.

According to Calimbayan, the President of the VSU Forestry Student Society, they started preparing for the competition months before the NFO commenced. They were thankful to VSU, especially their department and alumni who offered support and professional guidance for them for the competition.

“We started reviewing 2-3 months before the competition. We had review sessions, where we took exams, provided by our professors. We also had field reviews, where we visited the forests and studied the flora on the foothills of Mt. Pangasugan with Dr. Polinar and Dr. Peque.”

“Our narrow victory in Forest Surveying and strong performance in Tree Mensuration was with the wits and assistance generously shared by Forester Samuel Bernaldez. The Department of Forest Science faculty and alumni contributed to our achievements in the competition, offering their support in various ways,” he added.

Meanwhile, Lagahit highlighted that they studied different key points and each of them focused on a particular aspect to divide the labor.

“Prior to the different events, we did numerous simulations that allowed us to gain familiarity with the mechanics and mastery of the course flow of all events. We thoroughly reviewed substantial key points, not limited to surveying procedures, survey plotting, tree measurements, tree diseases, leaves, seeds, GIS-based mapping, scientific poster layouting, and other taxonomic information. Also, we carried out a division of labor to systematically subdivide the focus on each particular event, which has been proven effective. Though we had lapses, we still strived, got our backs on, and pushed our limits to the fullest.”

The team had a wholesome experience where they were able to establish meaningful connections and experiences with other participating universities.

“The privilege of representing VSU Forestry on a national scale was a gift or a blessing in disguise. We, as a team, proudly embarked on the competition with the wisdom gleaned from the professor's teachings and by delving into the forestry realm through research,” declared Calimbayan.

“Initially, there were apprehensions about not knowing the capabilities of other SUCs, but our optimism prevailed. We uplifted each other, ensuring that we conquered every challenge with wit, and confidence and united as a team. All that boldness led to a commendable placement as the 3rd Runner Up, placing fourth among 22 participating SUCs, and the highest-ranking university outside Luzon. We were merely a point away from claiming 2nd Runner Up overall. It was indeed a monumental moment for VSU Forestry. What truly matters is that we gave our all, shared memorable experiences, and gleaned invaluable lessons from the event.”


“It’s my honor to represent my beloved university at that national level of competition, and indeed, I couldn’t be this happy without the warm support from the VSU community. This milestone somehow signifies the excellence of forestry at VSU. I hope this achievement will inspire other Viscans to aim high, strive more, and excel in different competitions while proudly raising the flag of VSU,” added Lagahit.

“Though we were unable to hit the championship, the knowledge and experience gained weigh more than a treasure, and that experience inspires me to continue what I’ve started as one of the leaders of the green movement,” he concluded.

This year’s NFO ran from February 21 to March 1, 2024, with the theme, “Forests of Tomorrow: Navigating Sustainability through Green Innovation”. The Zeta Beta Rho Honor Fraternity and the University of the Philippines Mussaenda Honor Sorority organized this biennial event.

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