Around 50 Grade 9 students from Beaver Brae Secondary School had the opportunity last week to learn firsthand about forestry practices.
This experience was made possible by BBSS teacher Mr. Lynch, Weyerhaeuser, Miisun, and Outland’s Ontario Youth Employment Program.
The student's classroom for the day was an active logging operation just south of Kenora that is on a Forest Resource License held by Miisun Integrated Resource Management Co.
On hand to educate kids of the forestry industry was Matt Wilkie, Purchase Fibre and Systems Leader for the Kenora Weyerhaeuser.
“I think the kids were really excited to get out to the bush. It’s not in class it was really good for them to get out. The weather was windy, rainy, and cold but they still enjoyed themselves,” said Wilkie.
Wilkie did add they tried to stress a couple of things when they were out there.
“How different things you learn in school are important like math. Talking about how to measure the volume of a tree, and how you sample an area to figure out the parameters for forestry operations.”
In the logging operation, students got to see a logging truck being loaded and the explanation of what that wood will be used for.
The students had the chance to plant around 600 trees, learn about the process of proper planting techniques, and the reasoning behind why trees are planted after an area has been harvested.
The kids got to see a harvested area from three years ago and that was planted a year ago to learn about the survival of a planted tree, and other trees that naturally grow.
Students visited a mature forest area to look at a salvage harvest area that was damaged by snow, insects, and Jack Pine Bug Worms.
“It was really interesting for the kids to see how the forest grows and renews itself either through fire or forest harvesting,” noted Wilkie.
Members of Weyerhaeuser, and Miisun were on hand as well explaining their roles within their companies and educating the students on employment opportunities in the forestry industry.
“Miisun wants to promote any type of forestry employment opportunities, any type of career paths that are available. Sustainable forestry is what we do. We’ve seen a big uptick in students that are interested in forestry. Anytime we can get the First Nation, and Non First Nation youth interested in forestry is a win in the community,” said Miisun’s Shannon Rawn, R.P.F. - General Manager.
“I think it’s very important to have this type of experiential learning. This gives kids a much better idea of what people actually do for a living and it might help them decide on what they want to do,” says Wilke.
Wilke concluded by saying he hopes this learning experience will be the beginning of a regular occurrence within both the Kenora Catholic and Kenora Patricia District School Boards.
The forestry industry can provide many employment opportunities such as; Forest Technicians, Field Technicians, Foresters, Supervisors, Timber Cruisers, and Tree Planting to just name a few.
The Outland Youth Employment Program is a national network of land-based education, training, and work opportunities for high school-aged Indigenous youth. OYEP is a six-week work experience providing training and education in a supportive space that replicates various work environments.
Miitigoog Forest Management Company, operating as Miisun Integrated Resource Management Company, is a 100% First Nations owned Natural Resource Management company. Formed in 2010 and based in Kenora, Ontario, Miisun is a truly unique take on the traditional forest management company.
Weyerhaeuser Company is the world's largest private owner of softwood timber and the world's largest producer of softwood lumber and market pulp. This diversified forest products company owns 5.1 million acres of timberland in the United States and license for 27 million acres in Canada. Weyerhaeuser also produces fine paper, containerboard, bleached paperboard, and a variety of wood products, and it is one of North America's leading recyclers of office waste paper, newspaper, and corrugated boxes.