A few weeks ago, I headed down to Swan Hills with my friend and co-worker Taya to cast a few lines and do some camping. We didn’t catch any fish, but there wasn’t room for complaints with such good company and conversation. We gladly talked about what we usually talk about, work and school. During our conversations we asked each other two important questions,
“What would you pursue other than forestry?”
“Why did you choose to get into forestry?”
To the first question I answered,
“It’s forestry or nothing for me.”
That might seem drastic but its true, I genuinely don’t know what I would do other than become a forester. For a brief second, I considered being a Conservation Officer or Hunting Guide, but both of those sounded like I would be doing lots of working while everyone else was doing lots of hunting. That fact made those careers a definite no go. When I found out a career as a forester existed, I knew without a doubt that’s what I wanted to do with my life.
As to the for the second question there are multiple reasons I am choosing to pursue a career as a forester. The most obvious reasons have to do with the lifestyle being a forester provides. By working for a mill, I will be able to live in a small town or rural area, which allows me to hunt and fish right outside my back door. As a forester I will also contribute to the production of very important products that the world could not go easily without. I will also be able to manage the bush in a way that maintains ecological integrity and continues to provide food and recreation that I and many others rely on. These are some of the most obvious reasons forestry is such a fitting industry for me, but the biggest influence on my drive to become a forester is my dad Brock and his career.
My dad began his career as framing houses at the same age I am now starting my career. He has been a framer for 32 years and counting. At an average of 20 houses per year he has put roofs over the heads of roughly 640 families, many of those houses were built with OSB produced by the very mill I now work at. Every house must be built regardless if the temperature is -30 or +30, and for him there is no escape from the elements. It does not matter whether his back, hips or ankles are sore or injured, if the house doesn’t get built he doesn’t get paid, and that’s that. With those conditions, sheeting floors and lifting walls gets monotonous and miserable quick. The odd time I helped him at the jobsite to move lumber and nails, chip ice off a foundation or build a deck, I realize framing is not a career to wish on anyone. Although its satisfying to build homes, the physical demand never lets up.
Knowing what my dad’s job is like, makes a career as a forester that much more desirable. In forestry, unlike framing, there is relief from labour intensive work when I get too old for it. While I’m young forestry allows me to work in the bush all day, putting miles on my boots through deadfall and wild rose, in rain or shine. There is no where I would rather be and nothing I would rather do for quite some time. Although I dread this thought, the day will come when I welcome the comfort of an office. As a Forester there is an appropriate balance of field and office work that won’t break my back. Not only is forestry easier on the body, but with how much the industry changes and the variety of forester positions out there, it would be hard to get bored of. For these reasons I cannot think of a better career for myself than a forester.
One of the unique aspects of forestry is the ability students have to explore the industry during the summers and find out what areas of the industry are out there. So far, my summer at Tolko High Prairie has done nothing but confirm my aspiration to be a forester. Not only do I get to work in the bush all day and enjoy what I do in the short term, but by watching what my supervisors do I get a sneak peek into what my career could be like further down the road. If you’re currently a forestry summer student, use this time to find what you like to do while you’re still young, and don’t take for granted a job you are passionate about because not everyone gets that luxury. I consider myself more than fortunate to be pursuing a career I’m passionate about and that will hopefully put me on the easier side of an OSB sheet than my dad.