The school year has begun! And with that arrival comes the beginning of the school field-trip-season where thousands of students get the pleasure of enjoying outdoor educational activities across the Island.

One of the Island’s most popular outdoor educational locations is Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre located outside of Campbell River and hugging the edge of the Strathcona Provincial Park and TimberWest property.

The Lodge has been Canada’s leading outdoor education centre for over 50 years. It is widely known for its five-day adventure program for students ranging in age from Grade 6 to Grade 12. During the five-day program, students get to experience some of the most exciting educational opportunities focused exclusively on environmental stewardship, outdoor activities, and leadership development. These students get to learn first-hand the importance of the environment surrounding them, and what it means to become a responsible steward of our land and resources.

TimberWest and Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre share that value of responsible stewardship, and since the early 1990s the two organizations have worked in collaboration to allow for the co-existence of tourism and forestry on the North Island.
 
“The open dialogue we’ve had with TimberWest about the value of our forests, from habitats to tourism, to jobs and livelihoods, has always been a driving force behind our partnership,”  says Jamie Boulding, President of Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre. “TimberWest has listened to our concerns about some of their forest plans, and they have augmented them to make sure that a happy-medium can be found. That is a respectful partnership, and that is why we invited TimberWest staff to come and present to our Outdoor Educators and Leaders.”

TimberWest’s Bill Grutzmacher, North Island Forester, Dave Miller, North Island Forest Engineer, and Molly Hudson, Biologist and Stewardship & Engagement Manager, presented to several Educators and staff members about the forest practices and values TimberWest employs.

“During the presentation and tour of the woods the Educators got to learn about who TimberWest is and what sustainable forest management means. They also got to ask the difficult questions, the intelligent questions and preconceived-perception questions; ultimately making them better leaders, and better outdoor educators,” continued Mr. Boulding. “Seeing the staff and Educators engaged, and learning about harvesting cycles and reforestation plans was really thrilling. The students coming through the doors in the next little while will get a balanced and fair education about sustainable forest management and how forestry, adventure, and stewardship can co-exist on Vancouver Island.”

“The dialogue was very positive, with many instructors taking notes and following-up with really great questions,” says, Molly Hudson, Stewardship and Engagement Manager. “As a forester and a biologist, it’s important to me that I do my job well, not only for myself but for the thousands of students, communities, and tourists around the world who care about our environment and our forests. Knowing that the Company I work for prides itself on its environmental leadership, and takes seriously the relationships it has with its many, many neighbours, including Strathcona Park Lodge, makes me proud because I know that the forests are being responsibly managed for today and for future generations. I am so glad I get to tell that story to Outdoor Educators because their values echo my own.”

The highlight of the day included a walk in the woods where Educators got to see first-hand the harvested block that was newly planted in 2015 where trees are already 5 feet tall. Educators and staff were both equally surprised that TimberWest trees could grow so quickly. The replanted area, adjacent to the Sundew Bog, will look flush with trees in 5 years-time, and is already well on its way to becoming a healthy, green third-growth forest.

TimberWest and Strathcona Park Lodge & Outdoor Education Centre will continue to work together on forestry education. 

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