Forestry fair plants seeds for students

Production jobs are discussed with students at Prairie River Junior High in High Prairie. Standing, left-right, are High Prairie Forest Products sawmill grading control worker Kyle Rosychuk, and Grade 9 students Rhianna Erhart, Sarah Breast and Lyndon Lavis, and Tolko dust mitigation co-ordinator Jenny Ehman.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Career opportunities in the forest industry were presented to junior high school students at a forestry career fair March 3 in High Prairie.

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

Students from High Prairie schools Prairie River Junior High and St. Andrew’s Catholic 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 showcased careers in the forest industry, to show there are a broad range of opportunities available right in the local area,” society executive director Cori Klassen says.

“It’s important to get students to think about it when they are young; we want to plant some seeds.”

Local employers appreciated the chance to promote local jobs.

West Fraser planning forester Steve Roten- burger says the career fair is valuable to the industry.

“It’s about creating jobs for future generations,” he says.

“It gives students options for a career path.”

He says many students were engaged and asked questions about the industry.

Tolko human resources business partner Bronwyn Dunphy says the event is good for students and the local area.

“The event is created for the community and the future of the forestry industry in the High Prairie area,” Dunphy says.

“It also raises awareness to students about job opportunities right in their hometown.”

Northern Lakes College, Alberta Works, Careers the Next Generation, Registered Apprenticeship Program, Rupertsland Institute, Women Building Futures, Alberta Industry and Apprenticeship Training, Work Wild and NAIT also participated.

Northern Lakes chair of dual credits and recruiting Brian Panasiuk agrees the students learn much about the industry at the fair.

“It’s great to have industry involved to talk to the students, that’s what makes the event effective,” Panasiuk says.

“Having people who know the jobs explain their work is really valuable to students.”

Careers the Next Generation field director Ernie Grach says the career fair is valuable to students in junior high before they get into senior high school.

When students are in Grade 10, they become more focused on their career choice, he says.

Millwright and welding opportunities are presented. Standing, left-right, are Tolko millwright Brian Legall, High Prairie St. Andrew’s School students Rhiannon Gray, Grade 9, Jarrett Gray, Grade 9, and Tolko apprentice Chad Miller.

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