Thunder Bay Woodlands intern Brelynn Howard’s first blogpost
I am so excited and thankful for this opportunity to share with you my summer working experiences! For my first blogpost, I really want to give you an inside as to what kind of person I am, and why of everything else, I chose forestry in the first place!
My name is Brelynn Howard and I am currently working and living out of Thunder Bay Ontario. I am going into my fourth year of my undergraduate degree at Lakehead University (thank goodness there IS a light at the end of the tunnel!). I feel like I am going to be crawling across that stage at graduation after surviving a thesis, a management plan and classes on top of that in my final year. I was born and raised in Brantford Ontario (yes I am a southerner and proud of it!), so you’re probably wondering… how the heck did I end up in Thunder Bay?
My forestry career actually began without me knowing, when I first picked up a fishing rod when I was ten, and then continued when I shot my first duck when I was 12. I had no idea at the time, but this time spent with my Popa would shape me into a person chasing the idea of conservation and sustainability. As I began to spend more and more time engulfed in nature throughout my childhood and into my teens, I learned about the value of wildlife and the impact it was having on my life. There is something about sitting in a tree stand on a snowy November evening that makes you want to live in that moment forever. So, what does this all have to do with me getting into forestry? Well in high school I became an eco-activist and was choosing classes related to ecology and biology. I made the decision to take a co-op position with the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA), which I absolutely loved, and if you are in high school reading this, I highly recommend taking a co-op!
At the GRCA I worked at the Burford Tree Nursery where we grew over 40 native Carolinian species. I learned a lot about what it takes to run a farm and drive a tractor, as well as the autecology of some very cool species. If you’ve never smelt a sassafras or tried eating a pawpaw fruit, you’re really missing out! I loved everything I was learning, but my absolute favourite part of going to the nursery everyday was working with some amazing people. I worked with the nursery superintendent Mark, the forestry superintendent Nathan (RPF) and the forestry tech Paul, three people who understood the importance of conservation and sustainability coming from agricultural backgrounds. I loved my co-op experience so much that I ended up working there for another two summers and got the opportunity to work with similar organizations such as Ducks Unlimited. Through this experience I learned that I wanted to be a part of a company such as the GRCA which holds strong values in public education and conservation.
So, in my senior year, I started my University search. I knew I wanted to study in a specialized biology program or forestry. I received offers from various programs, but something was telling me I had to accept my offer to the HBSCF program at Lakehead. Being from Brantford, I had never been anywhere further north than Barrie and had never been to Thunder Bay. I just accepted the offer and really had no idea what I was getting into. All I knew was that I wanted to pursue forestry in hopes of preserving the future, so I could spend many more nights in a tree stand!
Moving 17 hours from home to Thunder Bay was quite the culture shock to me. I had to understand that every house comes fully equipped with a sauna, that it’s a sin to say the word “cottage” and that sleds aren’t just made out of wood and rope. At Lakehead I began to make friends who share the same interests and hobbies as me, and soon enough my eyes were opened to the amazing hunting and fishing opportunities this part of the province offers. I also quickly learned that the forestry industry plays a major role in community and that logging roads make grouse hunting much easier!
The forestry industry was not what I expected at all. I wasn’t really sure what I was expecting, but at the GRCA, all the trees we produced were strictly for forest restoration. There wasn’t much thought about the economic potential of the stock we were growing. Thunder Bay operates a multi-million-dollar operation. I had no idea what a skidder, feller buncher or loader was, let alone how they work together to deliver wood to the sawmill. Since my first year of university I have learned so much and my eyes have been opened to this “big, bad industry” the media portrays forestry as. But I’m someone who is chasing this idea of “conservation and sustainability” remember? And that’s why I’ve spent the last year working for Resolute Forest Products.
Hopefully by the end of this summer I can show you why I love what I’m doing and can uncover some of the untold truths of the forestry industry, and how Resolute plays a MAJOR role in the conservation and sustainability of our environment. And if you’re someone who frowns upon forestry, keep reading and let me change your mind : ).