David Chura aims to help others learn and growGrowing up with a dad in the lumber wholesaling business, David Chura gained an appreciation for forests at a young age. He also learned early on to appreciate the products and jobs they provide.
By: Catherine Vaught, for the News Tribune
Growing up with a dad in the lumber wholesaling business, David Chura gained an appreciation for forests at a young age. He also learned early on to appreciate the products and jobs they provide.
Now, as executive director for the Minnesota Logger Education Program, he works to identify, design and deliver professional development courses about sustainable forest management, business management, transportation and safety.
“Our membership is comprised of logging business owners, wood dealers and (others),” he said. “It’s responsible for approximately 95 percent of the timber that is harvested in Minnesota annually.”
It also allows him to interact with interesting people, he says.
“Loggers are an amazing group of people and hardworking inventors, entrepreneurs, problem solvers, and stewards and some of the most genuine people I’ve ever worked with,” he said.
Describing himself as a bit of a “technology geek,” Chura teaches members the latest technologies and how that technology can help their business.
“I taught classes where we provided each logger with an iPad and I showed them a variety of ways they could use them in their business,” he said. “We had participants that ranged in age from their early 20s to 82, and it was hard to get them to take a break.”
Besides having a passion for technology, innovation and education, Chura enjoys traveling and photography.
An Eden Prairie, Minn., native, Chura says the Northland is a magnificent place to live, work and play. He also volunteers for various good causes.
“I strongly believe it’s important to volunteer with organizations where your skills and experience can make a positive contribution,” he said. “Everyone can make a contribution and in my opinion, we have an obligation to do so.”
One group he donates his services to is the Voyageurs Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, where he serves on the Executive Committee as the vice president of the Dynamic and Relevant Program.
“Dave is an energetic and visible young leader in Duluth and the surrounding region,” said David Nolle, executive director of Duluth’s Boy Scouts. “Under Dave’s leadership, the MLEP has become nationally respected in continuing education programming for loggers and foresters.”
Chura has also been a part of the Town of Duluth Planning and Zoning Commission, and was the chairman of the commission for the past four years. And though he doesn’t consider it volunteering, he said: “I’ve had a blast cheering on and entertaining Grandma’s Marathon runners on the race course with my old DJ equipment for the past 10 years.”
His office, in downtown Duluth, isn’t the only place to find him at work.
“I greatly appreciate the flexibility my job provides. I may spend time in the office, at the Capitol in St. Paul, or at meetings or in the woods all in the same week,” he said.
Chura says his biggest accomplishment is seeing the MLEP become nationally recognized as a leader in logger education and certification.
“We have created one of the first third-party logger certification programs in the country,” he said. “I am proud to have played a part in those successes, but it’s the perseverance and input from our members and board that provides our forward momentum.”
Get to know David Chura
Occupation: Executive director for the Minnesota Logger Education Program.
What do you actually do? Work with a network of partners to identify, design and deliver continuing education training that helps the logging industry stay competitive and the public to better understand the important role forest management plays in improving forest health while providing quality recreational opportunities and jobs.
Years in your job: 9
Education: Bachelor of arts in political science and history from the University of Minnesota Duluth; 20 credits toward master’s in public administration from Hamline University; certified nonprofit accounting professional, certificate in nonprofit administration from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, certificate in public affairs management from Hamline.
Family: Wife, Cassie; children Wesley and Kate; and dog Timber.
Community involvement: Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board member; Minnesota Center for Rural Policy & Development board member; vice president Dynamic and Relevant Program; Voyageurs Area Council Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors; Town of Duluth Planning and Zoning Commission, 1997-2012 (chairman for past four years); past council member and current finance committee member at French River Lutheran Church.
What brought you to the Twin Ports?
My wife, Cassie, is from Duluth and I went to college at UMD. When our son, Wesley, was born, we decided we wanted to move up from the Cities and raise our family here. The Northland is a magnificent place to live, work and play.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I enjoy traveling, experiencing different cultures and expanding my likes and interests. I also like to take pictures that tell a story by capturing life as it happens. We have a sign as you go out our front door that says, “Make things happen today.” I think you have to make kids and yourself uncomfortable to grow. I enjoy the way our family challenges each other to get uncomfortable and learn or experience something new each day.
Describe your favorite place in the Twin Ports.
Stoney Point is a quiet place where you can clear your head and focus your thoughts on your priorities. Afterward, I like to grab a bite to eat and visit with friends and neighbors at the Lighthouse at Emily’s in Knife River.
What do you like most about the Northland?
The lake! When we moved here, someone told me the lake looks different every day. It’s absolutely true. When I wake up, the first thing I see is the lake and it never looks the same one day to the next.
How can the Northland retain younger people?
I think it’s great that young people want to venture out in the world after high school; that’s important to do and it can help them recognize what we have to offer back home. We need to continue to encourage entrepreneurship and promote the area as a great place to live and own a business. I also think the area too often sends a “we are against” message instead of “we are for.” Protesting against people, policies or things tells me you are a pessimist. Let’s be optimists — make your cause something you are rallying for, not protesting against. People want to be on a winning team. Winning teams have fans that don’t protest their opponents, they have fans that feverishly support and promote the team in a positive way. I’ve seen a lot more rallying in the past couple of years and that’s refreshing.
Who or what has made the biggest impact on your life?
My parents have been great role models, supportive and emphasizing the importance of doing the right thing — even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. They created a solid foundation, but I couldn’t be as engaged and active as I have been without the support of my wife, Cassie. In our family I may be the CFO, but she is the COO. She makes it all work.
What are you most passionate about?
Technology, innovation and education. Technology is changing at an incredibly rapid place. I am an advocate for integrating and encouraging the use of technology in our schools. Certainly, there needs to be rules regarding appropriate use, but why wouldn’t we want kids to use these devices to record science experiments and include pictures and video with their reports? Can you imagine what a pleasant surprise it would be if kids were encouraged to send their parents or grandparents a picture and text message documenting what they are learning on a field trip?
Those that know me well would also say spreadsheets. I’ll admit I have a spreadsheet for just about everything — it’s sort of an addiction!
What is your biggest accomplishment?
It’s rewarding to see the organization I work for recognized nationally as a leader in logger education and certification. We created one of the first third-party logger certification programs in the country and we have been designing and delivering interactive eLearning courses that engage participants. I am proud to have played a part in those successes, but it’s the perseverance and input from our members and board that provides our forward momentum. I am also proud of the enthusiasm and love for learning my kids have. Cassie and I have worked hard to give our kids opportunities to explore and experiment and it seems to be working.
What goals have you set for the next 5-10 years?
I am going to continue to challenge and educate myself. I believe strongly in the importance of continuous improvement. I have a strong desire to own or invest in a business. New ideas are always circling in my head, I just haven’t found the right one, yet. I also want to learn how to fish with the fly rod my brother gave me several years ago.
What advice would you give other young people?
I used to believe that if you just put your head down and went to work, with a commitment to excellence, that you would be successful and recognized for your contributions and potential. I still think it is important to be humble, but you also have to be an advocate for yourself and willing to passionately share your work and vision for future endeavors.