National Forest Week, taking place from September 22-28, is an opportunity for Canadians to celebrate one of our greatest renewable resources - our forests!
This year the National Forest Week theme is “The Greenest Workforce”, with a focus on the importance of careers in forestry including foresters, silviculturists, technicians, marketing, human resources, and engineers. This theme arises from a new initiative of the Forest Products Association of Canada who launched The Greenest Workforce this past spring by offering 6 internships in various positions related to forestry for students across Canada. The unique competition brought a new light to opportunities in forestry and the expected skills shortage in the future. Students were asked to submit video applications for the various positions, and the winner was decided by popular vote by the public. Drawing attention to the opportunities in forestry is critical in ensuring that students know their options and the paths they should take to get there.
The Ontario Forestry Association, through its Focus on Forests program, is engaging with provinces and territories to participate in “Forestry in the Classroom” being launched during National Forest Week and taking place throughout the fall. This program connects classrooms with forestry professionals to learn more about working in the field of forestry. Presenters are provided with resource materials, when requested, and are connected to a school in their area to talk about forestry.
Focus on Forests provides teaching resources that encourages teachers to bring forests into their classroom from junior through secondary studies. These free teaching resources are curriculum linked and include lesson plans on biodiversity, forest management, forest careers, wood products, ecosystems and tree biology. The goal is to create discussion in classrooms that highlight the importance of our natural resource. Encouraging teachers to use these resources to talk about forests and participate in the Forestry in the Classroom program may help to raise a generation more aware of the importance and value of our forestry resources.
Launched in the fall of 2012, Forestry in the Classroom (formerly Forester in the Classroom) worked with provincial professional foresters associations to connect foresters with classrooms. The program saw over 110 schools across Canada receive visitors in their classrooms to talk about our forests. This year we are expanding the program to include those working in the forestry field, in an effort to expand the knowledge about the range of careers available in the forestry sector. A report developed from the former Forest Products Sector Council in 2011 indicated a severe worker shortage expected in forestry in the near future. Forestry offers many different career opportunities; one of these in demand careers is expected to be in silviculture. It is essential that teachers and students are made aware of these future opportunities and that students learn more about working in that field directly from those currently involved.
The program was very well received by teachers; with many indicating that having someone speak directly about their career and forestry in their province as being well received by the students. “Having someone who chose forestry as a career coming in and talking to kids about their natural environment is appealing”, remarked one teacher from Ontario.
The OFA is looking for volunteers to join the Forestry in the Classroom Database. You could be matched with a school in your area to do a presentation on your career, sustainable forestry, or just general forest information. Help create the next generation of forest workers! Visit www.focusonforests.ca or email email@example.com to indicate your interest.
For more information about The Greenest Workforce and the resources it provides visit www.thegreenestworkforce.ca.