Hey! My name is Samantha and I thought a great way to start off my role as a Green Dream Intern for the Forest Products Association of Canada was to give a quick introduction to myself and how I ended up working with Al-Pac as a summer student.
If anyone asked me when I started university if I thought I would end up working in forestry, the answer would have been a solid no. Not because I didn’t think it would be a cool career path, but because I never even considered how my degree could translate into a forestry role. Having learned so much more about the forestry industry, the ties between my education path and forestry work are now clear.
I have one year left at Dalhousie University to complete my double major program in earth and environmental science. I am also finishing a certificate in GIS. I’ve been really interested in soil, water, plants, rocks, climate change and healthy ecosystems for as long as I could remember.
For my first two field jobs, I worked for geological surveys in Ontario and Nova Scotia where I learned important data management and sampling skills. I then decided I wanted to diversify my work experience and work in a more environmental-related position. I got a job with the University of BC working for their Tree Ring Lab as a field assistant. This was my segue into forestry. I assisted a Master’s student who was working to quantify fuel loads and wildfire risk in the interior of BC. I conducted vegetation surveys, tree measurements and transect assessments of coarse woody debris.
I believe it was a combination of my educational background in ecology, hydrology, soil science, GIS and biogeochemistry plus my various field work experience and strong writing skills that helped me to get a position working for Al-Pac. When I found the job ad, I truthfully hadn’t realized that forestry companies even hired for ecology-based positions. This really opened my mind to the wide-ranging potential jobs that my education could qualify me for. This was the first time I realized that I didn’t need a forestry degree to end up working in forestry because forestry encompasses so many different aspects and intertwining disciplines to create a well-rounded and sustainable industry.
My role with Al-Pac involves a good mix of field work and office time, with various projects and subjects. I have assisted with:
- Studies looking at bird population changes due to disturbances
- Seismic line restoration through peatlands and how mounding is impacted by wildfire
- How road construction can cause impoundment and alter water movement and plant species distribution in wetlands
- Helping out with the tree planting season and ensuring high plant quality
It has been incredibly exciting and eye-opening to see all the environmental and ecological considerations surrounding forestry operations. I am actively using skills such as report writing, researching, GIS and Excel, field sampling and synthesizing knowledge from multiple disciplinary backgrounds to understand and explain results and findings. My summer so far has been challenging and rewarding. I love being able to contribute to an important cause such as properly managing Canada’s forestry resources and learning about all components of the industry along the way.