Forestry fair plants seeds in students’ minds

Electrical trades opportunities are presented. Left-right, are West Fraser Forest Products apprentice Machaela Rose, Prairie River Junior High School students John Glover and Brandi Hunt, Tolko electrician Justin Thompson, students Yulrich Evardo and Delany Lauck, and Tolko electrician Peter Spruyt.

Richard Froese

Job opportunities in the forest industry were presented to local Grade 9 students at a forestry career fair March 6 at the Edmo Peyre Hall in High Prairie.

Students from High Prairie schools Prairie River Junior High and St. Andrew’s School, Gift Lake, Atikameg, and G.P. Vanier in Donnelly examined the options of training and careers at the event, which was co-hosted by several industry partners.

High Prairie Forest Products and High Prairie Tolko Industries were the local employers in the event, organized by Lesser Slave Forest Education Society.

“We had good response from students who got a glimpse of career opportunities in this region,” says society boreal educator Michelle MacMillan.

“The career fair helps students talk to people in the industry one-on- one and know what to do to tailor their high school courses to prepare for a career.”

Alberta Works, Careers the Next Generation, Registered Apprenticeship Program, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Rupertsland Institute, and Work Wild also participated.

Students and schools valued the event that presented options.

“It’s important to have a forest career fair in our community because there are countless opportunities here in the region,” says Jocelyn Heyde, principal at PRJH.

“It exposes students to career ideas not only what they want to do, but not want to do.”

Some students who may not show any interest about school or career can be inspired as they are bombarded with career opportunities, she adds.

“Students seem to be engaged and it’s good that the local forest industry reaches out to future generations,” says St. Andrew’s junior high school teacher Ken Kosak, who accompanied the students.

School principal Marc Lamoureux adds local jobs are a benefit.

“I believe that any opportunity to expose students to potential is helpful to them,” says Lamoureux.

“The fact that these are local opportunities is also positive for our community.”

Atikameg teacher Darrell Fors agrees.

“It’s a good opportunity to realize what’s available in the area so students can stay close to home if they choose,” he says.

Forestry employers were encouraged by the fair and the interest by students.

“This is a great opportunity to show students what great opportunities in the forest industry are available in the High Prairie area,” says Lee Barton, general manager of High Prairie Forest Products.

“Two students who attended last year are in the process of getting work this summer.”

High Prairie Tolko mill is also delighted to partner, now in the first year of operating after being out of operation for almost 10 years.

“We are pleased to communicate with youth the different education and career paths they can take to work in the forest industry,” says Bronwyn Dunphy, human resources business partner.

“Students were very interested and they asked a lot of questions,” she adds.

Northern Lakes College presents training opportunities. Left-right, are Brian Panasiuk, chair of dual credits and recruiting, Cherie Friesen, chair of trades and technology, Patricia Rempel, administration assistant chair of trades and technology, and St. Andrew’s students Jara Zallum, Dreyton Auger, Colby Cox and Sam Basarab.
Atikameg students learn about careers. Left-right, are students Michael Thunder, Shanden Noskey and Kylene Tallman, High Prairie Forest Products apprentice millright Mikayla Bellerose and maintenance supervisor Ken Ogg.


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