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Learn to Grade Eastern White Pine at NELMA’s Online Grader Academy

Do you work in the lumber industry, or wish you did? You can up your skills without leaving your home with NELMA’s Online Grader Academy. 

This training resource makes it easy (and dare we say, fun) to learn more about the intricacies of lumber grading, especially when it comes to the two most prominent species in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, Eastern White Pine and the Spruce-Pine-Fir grouping.

There are two major components of the Grader Academy website: grader training, which is online instruction courses, and two grader games. “Above Board” is an interactive game that simulates real-time lumber grading at a mill, with variable lug speeds from beginner level to more advanced settings, and “Build-A-Board” tests your Eastern White Pine knowledge to create a Premium or Standard grade board from a clear 1”x8”x8’ image using the maximum number of allowable defects provided in an image gallery.

“The courseware developed for NELMA’s Grader Training follows a natural, visual-learning approach to learning the intricacies of how to identify the grade of lumber.  Each level of training will guide an individual in steps through the education process, beginning with basic identification of wood characteristics to more advanced grading concepts. Each topic within each level of courseware ends with a quiz.  Students must pass the quiz for each topic in sequence to be able to take the next course level quiz.  Once registered, a student’s Profile page will track their progress, in addition to their Above Board game scores by level.”

“When we launched the NELMA Grader Academy six years ago, our hope was that the industry would embrace the opportunity to learn more about lumber grading in a fun format,” said NELMA president Jeff Easterling. “The goal was to take what was previously a laborious learning process and offer educational opportunities in a multifaceted, online, visual education program. We’ve done that, and the number of industry members taking the classes shows how much it was needed.”

The program is accessible 24/7, so you can learn on your own time. Check it out at, and consider checking out all of the job opportunities available at NELMA’s Job Board, too.


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