By Courtney Jackson
A career in the forest products industry offers as many rewards and opportunities as it does challenges. That’s what participants in Resolute’s Engineering Graduate Program and Forest Products Association of Canada’s (FPAC) Green Dream Internship Program are discovering on the job at Resolute.
We are pleased to share a series of blogposts written by the new interns on their work experience and adventures.
Welcome to the second blog post!
This week, I wanted to elaborate on why my summer job at Resolute Forest Products has been an absolute blast!
On my very first day at Resolute, I remember walking into the Woodlands building feeling a little nervous, but mostly excited. I was thrilled to have accepted my position at Resolute, as their Woodlands Operations Intern for the summer of 2018. Never having worked in the forest products industry before, I was even more excited about this experience. I’m very thankful for this opportunity, and I’m so pleased and grateful for all the support I have received this year from my colleagues, teachers and other staff members at Lakehead University.
My first day began with a brief orientation and a walk-around of the building. On this tour, I met the Resolute team. With a smile on my face, I happily introduced myself, and in return, I was warmly welcomed.
The rest of the week involved a lot of training. First, I learned about Resolute’s Environmental Management System (EMS), which is an environmental management standard for all employees and contractors at Resolute. The EMS includes emergency response strategies, health and safety, fire prevention and modifications and environmental, operational controls. Resolute strives for sustainable forest management and does so, by abiding the EMS. Additional training that I received included: block boundary marking, water crossing construction, basic species at risk and invasive species, sedimentation and erosion prevention, and response. After completing all this training, I was excited to get out into the field.
Resolute provided me with new safety gear including a hard hat, cut-level four gloves, and safety glasses. I was also given some new electronics to use for the season; I received a Garmin Montana and a Garmin inReach Explorer. The Garmin Montana is a hand-held GPS tracking device, and the inReach Explorer is a handheld satellite. With the inReach unit, I can send and receive text messages as well as send an S.O.S alert in case of an emergency. The inReach also records and tracks my location. With both these units on hand, I feel very safe when working in the field. One thing I love most about working in the natural resources sector is being able to spend time outdoors! I always look forward to an adventure and especially, to learn and observe something new!
When the field days began with my cool new co-workers, we suited up with all our safety gear and headed out in the field. With multiple maps in hand as well as my spiffy-new GPS, I was ready and prepared. Typically, our plan included making site-visits to the harvesting operations. When we arrived in a harvest block, we met up with the contractor(s). We would also watch the operators fell the trees, skid them to the roadside and process them.
Here in Thunder Bay, Resolute’s sawmill accepts cut-to-length and tree-length white and black spruce, jack pine and balsam fir saw logs. They also receive woodchips at the pulp and paper mill in two forms: news and kraft chips. Resolute’s news chips are comprised of both white and black spruce. Kraft chips are separated by soft and hardwood species. Softwood kraft chips are comprised of jack pine, balsam fir, and tamarack and hardwood kraft is entirely poplar. Here in northwestern Ontario, there are only two hardwood species received at the Thunder Bay pulp and paper mill: poplar and white birch. The residual poplar and birch are chipped and used for biofuel at the pulp and paper mill.
The whole process from harvesting the trees, to processing the wood and hauling the timber is quite amazing. Already, I know I’ve gained so much from my first month and a half, almost two months employed at Resolute! I always look forward to coming into work, to learn something new and to see my co-workers! I am living a green dream this summer.
Now that I’ve been here for a bit and I’ve experienced multiple field days working alongside some great people, I’m now at the point where I am venturing into the field on my own. Some of the things that I do when I’m out and about include: review sign-off maps with the harvesting contractors, observe the harvesting operations, conduct log quality checks and observe that the contractors are always abiding the EMS. I make sure that employees are wearing the proper protective equipment as well as being safe on the job. We record near miss and hazard observations to ensure the highest level of safety and to prevent accidents from occurring. It starts from the bottom up! We must focus on safety, followed by a strong focus on the environment, then concentrate on the quality of our work/products and finally, the production to supply the mills.
This week, I’m in the field for the next three days! I’ll see some logging operations, snap a few photos, conduct a few log quality checks and hope to see some natural activity going on in the forest!