Teachers at Stanley Humphrey Secondary School (SHSS) have launched a club to introduce students to jobs in forestry.
Members of the Kootenay Forest Connections Club were at the Armoury in Trail on Friday, learning to rough-cut wood with the help of the 44th Field Engineer Squadron and Atco Wood Products.
Trent Coombs, SHSS social studies teacher and master corporal in the 44th, set up the day’s activity.
“I contacted Scott [Weatherford, CEO of Atco,] and then being a master corporal in the armed forces, I got this going, and [the students have] got a good idea of what some options are,” he said.
Don Liszt, shop teacher at SHSS, demonstrated rough-cutting the wood with help from Coombs, Warrant Officer Fiessel and Sapper Dewell.
The 44th Squadron allowed Coombs and Don to use their equipment, donating gas and their time. Atco donated the lumber to be cut, rejects from its sawmill that are still perfectly good for the students’ woodworking projects.
Some are less than eight feet long and not big enough to produce the right size veneer, which Atco sells for the production of plywood, and others have some rot in the middle.
“The rot may just be on [the] end, it may only go a little ways in, so it can still work out pretty well,” said Weatherford, pointing to the log Liszt was working on, which had a small amount of rot at the end. “So you can see like this one here, it’s only rotten in this spot, so when you go a couple of inches in it’s fine.”
Weatherford was out at the Armoury to let the Kootenay Forest Connections Club know about the many forestry-related professionals employed by Atco.
Most of the kids—seven in total, all boys—were interested in the job of forester.
Tony Pirrotta joined the club because he was interested in being a forester in the first place.
“I was interested in forestry through a program called Integrated Environmental Planning at Selkirk, and I was like looking into that,” he said. “I was talking to one of the people that work with the program, and they were talking about how you go into forests and you look at the waterways, and you look at ecosystems—how you’re disturbing them, what you’re going to do, like the order of operations to get the trees down—and it kind of just peeked my interest.”
The other students also expressed an interest in spending their days exploring the forest. Friday’s blustery weather helped underscore Weatherford’s point that foresters don’t always get to stay warm and dry, but that didn’t seem to deter any of the young men.
The students will take the rough-cut wood back to the SHSS wood shop.
“The goal is to have the kids be able to see like something going from one of those trees on the hillside, to rough-cut lumber to finished lumber…. That start to finish process,” said Coombs. “If they’re interested, then you know maybe it’ll give them some ideas for career paths.”