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Doing what makes you happy

My name is Shania Johnston, I am 25 years old; I currently operate a grapple skidder and am new to the logging/ forestry world. I graduated from Fleming College with a Law and Justice Diploma. However, I recently made some big changes in my life and chose to pursue two new employment opportunities. One being in an industry outside my element as a Skidder Operator, the other as a Volunteer Fire Fighter. I enjoy a challenge, being part of a team, and the outdoors. Harvesting wood while also being conscious of the environment is my goal. I hope to become skilled operator, more mechanically savvy and continue to improve my understanding of forestry throughout my career.

I have always had an interest in finding a career that I’m passionate about, challenging, and one where I can get my hands dirty. In 2020 I learned of an employment opportunity with a local business as a Logging Operator. It was an industry I hadn’t had experience with, I was excited, but not knowing what to expect I was skeptical of my ability to do the job at first.

Having the privilege of working outdoors everyday has been an amazing experience so far. With the crisp air, the smell of the trees, the power of the equipment and learning to harness that into productivity, I’m motivated to keep going by so many factors. I’m able to develop my skills and learn something new equipment or forestry related every single day. I am extremely thankful for the guidance and encouragement I receive from the group of experienced individuals I work with. It is invaluable to me to be able to have the freedom and ability to learn, make mistakes, and come out stronger by pushing myself to do better, along with having helpful expertise offered when needed. I am really fortunate to be learning from the men I work with who are experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate about this industry. They have welcomed me to their team and put forth effort every day to cultivate my skills and abilities as an operator.

My advice to other women looking at getting into forestry/ operating is do what makes you happy. Trying something new and challenging can be daunting; it’s imperative you push yourself to try new things that interest you, regardless of what that may be, and the ‘norm’ surrounding it. You truly do miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, I promise, whether it ends up working out or not, it will be a valuable experience. Hard work, taking risks when necessary and trying something new is the foundation to finding your place in the world.


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