Graduation of the 197th Class at NHLA Inspector Training School

The National Hardwood Lumber Association celebrated the graduation of the 197th class of the Inspector Training School on March 4, 2022. Twelve students received the certificate of completion.

Dana Spessert, NHLA Chief Inspector and ITS Dean of Education, welcomed and thanked the families, friends, and employers who supported the students during their time away from home.

Instructor Roman Matyushchenko congratulated the students, advising them to, “Give more than what is expected from you, and be more than what you’re expected to be.”

Bobby Atkinson with Somerset Wood Products, a graduate of Class #119 in 1995, gave the keynote address. He commended the graduates and spoke about the joy of working in an industry that is sustainable, saying, “We are fortunate to work in a business centered around one of the few completely renewable resources in the world. As we carefully remove hardwood trees from the forest, we make way for sunlight to reach the younger trees, so they can grow tall.”

Jacob Whyatt with Bryant & Young Lumber was elected class president. He spoke to his fellow students during the ceremony reminding them, “As we return home, let us remember to be an example of what a leader looks like. We are the future of this industry, and the generation behind us will look to us to learn how to make a difference and succeed. So, let’s take on the responsibility of being a leader with honor, with integrity, and with compassion.”

Graduates of the 197th class were:

  • Garrett Austin, Austin Timber Co.
  • Mario Castillo, Somerset Wood Products
  • Nathaniel Flynn, Pine Knot Lumber, Inc.
  • Colby Hinze, Cole Hardwood Inc.
  • Devin McInerney, Billsby Lumber Co.
  • John Olabode, J. Gibson McIlvain Co.
  • Oscar Ortigosa, Soriel SL
  • Will Rushing, J.M. Jones Lumber Co.
  • James Schroeter, Bryant & Young Lumber
  • James Souder, Bryant & Young Lumber
  • Jacob Whyatt, Bryant & Young Lumber
  • Corey Workman, Somerset Wood Products

Roman Matyushchenko presented the individual achievement awards. Outstanding individual awards recipients were as follows:

  • Jacob Whyatt, ITS Educational Foundation Award for Highest Overall Average
  • John Olabode, Howard Hanlon Award for Second Highest Overall Average
  • Jacob Whyatt, Westside Hardwood Club Award for Highest Board Run Average
  • James Souder, The Milt Cole and NHLA Award for Best Attitude/Citizenship

Enrollment is now open for the 199th class, at the Clearfield County Career & Technology Center in Clearfield, PA. Class 199 begins on June 6, 2022. Enrollment is also open for class 200 at NHLA headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, beginning on September 26, 2022. To enroll or learn more about the Program, please visit