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Giving back to forests

Growing up half my life on the sugar bush-covered St. Joseph’s Island, Ontario and the other half in the heart of the log-driven Ottawa Valley, drilled into my entire being were the benefits of forests and the importance of protecting them.

I had spent my childhood exploring the bush, four-wheeling, hiking and [trying] to climb the biggest trees. Eventually I knew that I wanted to work in an industry that would allow me to give back to forests what they have given to me (and continue to).

I took the 2-year Forest Technician Diploma Program at Algonquin College (Pembroke, ON). This was an amazing introduction to what forestry is all about and we were fortunate enough to spend about 30% of the program actually in the field.

I was able to line up a job right out of college in Northern Alberta as a Forest Technician, mainly working with Growth and Yield data collection and measurement. Once I realized I was getting paid to operate four-wheelers and sleds, I knew I was on the right path! I eventually began working with the Algonquin Forestry Authority, in both Silvicultural Effectiveness Monitoring and as a Tree Marker.

All of these jobs gave me insight on what sustainable management is, how it has changed over the years and how I could make a further impact on the improvement of sustainable management. This urged me to continue my studies and enroll in the Forestry transfer program at Lakehead University. I was able to jump into 3rd year and as of September 2019, I will be continuing into my 4th and final year with the intention of graduating and working towards a Registered Professional Forester designation.

After joining Women in Wood, I quickly realized how many other great women are out there with their boots on the ground, who have had similar experiences as I’m encountering. I would say 99% of my experience has been fun, exciting and challenging all around, however there is always a small fraction of difficulty.

In a field that is mostly dominated by men (for now), I found there were times where my skillset seemed to get dismissed or unacknowledged. As I’m sure I am not the only one who has felt this way, my advice to other WIW is to be assertive, have confidence in your abilities and to take yourself seriously.

I have a long road of learning ahead of me with experiences to gain, and it’s amazing to know that there is an army of women walking along side me – or should I say trudging…through the mud…and snow…and swamps. Dirty work builds character, right? Right.

Looking forward to meeting many fellow WIW and hearing about all the future endeavours that forestry is bound to provide us. Cheers!

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