Teachers take forestry boot camp

Tyler Clarke
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Ministry of Environmental forest practices and science manager David Stevenson, Prince Albert Model Forest manager Susan Carr and education co-ordinator Bernadette Slager (front row from left) are seen with some of the 16 educators from across the province who are taking part in The Forest Boot Camp Project. 

A handful of science teachers are heading out into the bush this week to learn some ins and outs of the forestry industry.


Organized by the Prince Albert Model Forest, the Ministry of Environment-sponsored Forest Boot Camp Project’s intent is for teachers to share what they’ve learned with their students, education co-ordinator Bernadette Slager summarized.

“We want teachers to influence the young people to take an interest in the forestry industry,” she explained at the Prince Albert Forestry Centre prior to heading out into the field with 16 teachers from across the province.

At the centre of the current effort is a new item in the provincial curriculum titled Environmental Sciences 20, which centers on climate change, science teacher Jeremie Nkunzimana, from Sakewew High School in North Battleford, said.

This new optional curriculum addition will become mandatory in 2016, at which time it’s anticipated to influence young people into pursuing forestry-related careers.

There are plenty of links teachers can make between various segments of the environment and economy and climate change, which Ministry of Environment forest practices and sciences manager David Stevenson said that he will help teachers understand this week.

Within the forestry industry is a wide breadth of careers, Stevenson said, noting that those with an environmental interest, industrial or scientific leaning can find a career.

“Forestry is such a wide-ranging industry where so many careers can take off,” he said.

The environmental angle of things does away with the image of the villainous clear-cutting forester, with modern forest practices centered on sustainable industry.

“How do we make harvests more life forest fires?” Stevenson said, highlighting one of the current goals/challenges.

Cutting will never be the exact same as a forest fire, he said, citing a chemical difference between the tree burning and being removed.

However, the government is keen on getting as close to natural forest practices as possible, which enables the sustained biodiversity forests require to thrive.

There aren’t enough people pursuing careers in the forestry industry, Stevenson said, noting that despite occasional news stories about the “downturn of the forestry industry,” plenty of work remains available.

Linked with the idea of climate change, Slager said that her underlying hope is that the teachers taking part in this summer’s inaugural Forest Boot Camp Project will encourage other teachers to participate in subsequent years’ effort.

It’s all about ultimately influencing young people, she said.

“We hope some of these young people can solve our problems on earth.”

On Wednesday, the group of 16 teachers headed out into the bush, where they learned about various facets of the environment and industry.

In addition to learning about the Canwood Forest, on site, they had visits planned at the Big River Saw Mill and various talks, including one about natural forest pattern emulation. 

Organizations: Prince Albert, Ministry of Environment, Environmental Sciences 20 Sakewew High School

Geographic location: North Battleford, Environment forest, Canwood Forest

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