I was born/grew up in: I was born in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador. I lived there for the first 18 years of my life.
I now live in: I currently live in Pembroke, Ontario.
I completed my training/education at: I completed a Bachelor of Science in Forestry at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Two years later, I became a Registered Professional Forester with the Ontario Professional Foresters Association.
What I do at work
Every day is different in my job. I’m in the woods about half the time, completing a variety of tasks. Some days I will be collecting data to help make decisions about the management of the forest. Other days I’m looking for wildlife and other values to make sure they are protected. I select trees for harvest and mark them with paint. I also monitor the harvest operations and plan activities that will renew the future forest, like tree planting. When I’m working indoors, I am analyzing the data collected to make decisions about the sustainable management of the County’s forests, both for the long and short term. We look a long way into the future in forestry, to make sure that all future generations will be able to get the same benefits from the forest that we do.
Forestry is heavily science-based. All the decisions we make are based on science. Some examples are: how different tree species should be managed for the best growth, how different species of wildlife need to be protected, and how forests and landscapes change over time. There is a lot of problem solving involved. There is a great social side to this work. People have a strong connection to forests and, as a forester, you must effectively communicate how you are working in the best interest of the forest and the public.
It’s also important to note that Registered Professional Foresters are a regulated profession, the same as a doctor or a lawyer. We are held accountable for our actions. We follow a code of ethics and standards of practice when looking after forests.
My career path is
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was in high school. I knew that I loved being outside. I also knew that I wanted to go to university, and that I wanted a job when I was done. When I started I didn’t even know what forestry was. I feel grateful that an excellent mentor encouraged me to look into it. I have been working for over 10 years now and have not been unemployed for one day of that time. I was willing to go where the work was to get experience and that really paid off. I worked really hard, always offered to do more than was expected of me. I also took every opportunity I could get to learn new skills.
I am motivated by
Every day that I’m outside is exciting, even during mosquito season! You see so many things while working in the forest, and even more as you become more observant over time. For example having a moose follow you around, watching turtles in a wetland while you eat your lunch, finding a rare forest flower, or ducking while a hawk swoops overhead. These are all things that happen in the life of a forester.
I can not say enough nice things about the people you meet while working in the forest industry. If you want to be among people who love forests, you won’t find any as passionate as those who work in and for the forest. I get a lot of satisfaction from talking to students and the public about forestry, because we have such a good story to tell.
I know this career is right for me because I love to learn, and forestry is so complex that you never stop learning.
How I affect peoples’ lives
Forestry has come a long way in the last 100 years. It is fulfilling to be a small part of a large team that makes sure Ontario’s forests are well-managed. My work helps make sure the forest will be there for people to use and enjoy long into the future. Forests are so important to society for many more reasons than meet the eye. Trees store carbon while growing and continue to do so when harvested and made into wood products. Trees are our only renewable, natural resource. Many communities have succeeded for generations by carefully harvesting trees – and growing them back!
Outside of work I
An unexpected benefit of being a forester is that many of the places you will work are amazing outdoor recreation destinations. I spend my free time camping in Algonquin Park, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and ice fishing. I also love spending time in my vegetable garden.
My advice to others
Don’t count forestry out as a career choice. It’s a dynamic field, always advancing, and there are many opportunities for bright young folks. If you’re willing to work hard, are up for an adventure, and enjoy solving complex problems, forestry might be the career you’ve been looking for.