Forestry fair opens doors for students

Work safety opportunities are presented. Left-right, are St. Andrew’s students Jacob Rich and Kienan Willier, West Fraser safety resource Laura lei Johnston, students Leteisha Supernault and Julilet Sutherland, and Tolko occupational health and safety advisor Jeff Baird.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Career opportunities in the forest industry were presented to junior high students at a forestry career fair Feb. 26 in High Prairie.

Employers and industry partners presented options in the fair at the Edmo Peyre Hall, organized by the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society.

Students from High Prairie schools Prairie River junior high and St. Andrew’sl, Grouard Northland School, Gift Lake, and Atikameg and G.P. Vanier in Donnelly took part.

Various career options were featured by local employers Tolko Industries and High Prairie Forest Products, a division of West Fraser.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity for our students to be exposed to possible future career paths,” says St. Andrew’s vice-principal Stewart McIntyre.

Local employers appreciated the chance to promote local jobs.

“We want to attract local youth to pursue careers in the forest industry,” says Bronwyn Dunphy, Tolko human resources business partner.

“They can stay right in their home community and find jobs.”

Joe Quartly Trucking, Northern Lakes College, Alberta Works, Careers the Next Generation, Registered Apprenticeship Program, Rupertsland Institute, Work Wild and Portage College of Lac La Biche also participated.

Students and schools valued the event.

“There’s a career in the forest industry for every interest,” says Ken Janzen, a career coach for High Prairie School Division.

A teacher from Gift Lake School agreed.

“It’s a great opportunity for students,” says Alexandria Wolfe.

For students living in Gift Lake in a rural area, they don’t get many opportunities to see what’s available for careers.”

Grouard School also appreciated the fair.

“It opens their eyes to local industry and what they can start working towards,” says teacher Renita Larson.

“They don’t have to go far to get a job.”

Joe Quartly was glad to take part in the event for the first time.

“It’s great for the community,” Quartly says.

“It shows youth different sides of the industry in the local area.”

Northern Lakes College was another partner in the event.

“It’s good to have people in the industry talk to the students,” says Brian Panasiuk, chair of dual credits and recruiting.

“The best way to learn is from the people working in the jobs.”

He adds the forest industry provides many career options in the region.

“Many people don’t realize how many job opportunities that mills bring to a region,” Panasiuk says.

Organizers say the career fair proves that point.

“Its’ a good opportunity for students,” says M.J. Kristoff, executive director of the forest education society based in Slave Lake.

“It’s good for students to learn about careers and jobs in the region.”

Students showed interest about the industry, she says.

Students from Grouard Northland School find out about jobs in harvesting and planning. Left-right, are Markada Thunder, Theron Mindel, Tristan Mindel and Ingrid Mindel, Tolko forestry field employee Emma Farnham and West Fraser assistant forester Lyndsay Kohn.
Prairie River Junior High School students find out about opportunities in trucking. Left-right, are Joe Quartly trucking employee Shelley Henkel, students Logan Anderson, Amira Sharkawi, Serrae Calliou and Ethan Haussler, and business owner Joe Quartly.
Gift Lake students learn about the finishing department. Left-right, are West Fraser quality control employee Wade Martin, students Courtney Anderson, Nikeshia Lamouche, Desiree Sawan and Lane Calahasen and Tolko finishing employee Brittany Friesen.

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