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West Kootenay Zone

West Kootenay Forest Education Highlights

Darcee O'Hearn (Zone Forest Educator)

Since the last Learn Forestry News in February, West Kootenay forest education has been involved in many successful events from Christina Lake to Nakusp.

The year began with workshopping the Grade 3 Kit, “History of Logging” to School District 8 (Kootenay Lake).  There are plans to deliver the rest of the kits to the other school districts in my zone next fall, which include: School Districts 10 (Arrow Lakes), 20 (Kootenay-Columbia) and 51 (Kootenay Boundary). 

At the 2008 ForestEDWest Conference in Kelowna in January, I made new contacts and generated a lot of energy and ideas to take back to the West Kootenay. It was a fantastic event!!

Following a presentation at a Rotary meeting in Trail, one of the Rotarians, who was also a reporter, wrote a front page story in the Trail Times talking about my program and all the opportunities the Forest Industry has to offer.

Once again this year, I organized and manned a forest education booth at the annual Science Fair at Selkirk College.  This very well-organized event was sponsored by Science World and was attended by over 3000 people. I also continue to volunteer for Science World's “Scientist in Schools” program, whose organization matches schools with volunteers who have expertise in a particular area.  This system benefits everyone, as we work as a team to keep children fascinated with science.

I also helped organize and sponsor this year’s Earth Day Celebration at Gyro Park in Trail.  We had over 200 visitors enjoying many different stations and speakers with 40 volunteers and exhibitors taking part, despite the inclement weather.

Participating in an Employer Panel in Grand Forks, I represented the Forest Industry.  We had grades 10-12 attend the event and each student had an opportunity to ask questions about each of the Industries that panel members represented.  This is an excellent opportunity to attract new graduates into our industry and in the future, I would like to see an event similar to this come to Trail. 

The ILA forest education van plays an integral role in Forest Education in the Southern Interior. Recently, I brought the van to the West Kootenay for a two week tour. Forestry graduate, Carleigh Johnston and I, visited 11 different schools in 4 different school districts.  We spoke to 1262 students and as well, over 2500 people were reached at the Kaslo May Days weekend. To end the tour, we participated in a parade at the Beaver Valley May Days Celebration in Fruitvale.  It was so much fun to see the kids point and scream, “I’ve been in that van before...it’s awesome!”  My job is very rewarding and I believe I am making a difference in our Industry.

The 2008 Forestry Celebration at Syringa Creek Park was amazing!  We had 167 students and approximately 60 parents, teachers, and volunteers attend this year.  The MoF and I worked together to organize this day long event, which included six different stations: ILA Van, Fire and Protection water relay, Fire Simulation and equipment demonstration, Scavenger hunt using orienteering skills and equipment, a horse logging demonstration, and a watershed exercise called, “Stream Keepers”.  There were 3 chainsaw carvings given away after it was demonstrated how to make them.  Everyone went home with a special gift donated by the Ministry and COFI.

I visited many other schools throughout the district but the two most appreciated field trips by the students and teachers were when I had two different schools and 90 students make their own bird house.  It is incredible to see so many students concentrating a creating their own masterpiece.  Each one came out slightly different, but they all had the same smile after the project was completed.

Two of my favorite field trips were when I took out a group called, “The Young Naturalist Society” and St. Joseph Elementary School out to the Slocan Pools.  I used my “Legends of the Forest”, to teach the students tree identification.  We made some tree cookie name tags, talked about the Mountain Pine beetle, dug through infected pine logs looking for larvae and beetles, and brought out some increment borers to show the kids how we can discover the age of the tree counting the rings without having to cut down the tree.  The Slocan Pools is an excellent location for all the forest health issues and old growth characteristics.

Each year, the Forest Education program gets better and better and I reach more students, parents, social groups, and different societies. I can’t stress the importance of Forest Education in our region. I still run into teachers and community members who have conflicting opinions about how we make use of our renewable resource, but usually by the end of my presentation, their eyes are open to a much broader outlook on the Forest Industry!!


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