In August, TimberWest had the pleasure of hosting Caelan McLean, a 17 year old Grade 12 student from Highland Secondary School and member of K’omoks First Nation, for a 10 day summer work experience.  Caelan wanted to better understand the career possibilities in the forest industry and we were more than happy to show him. Over the course of his 10 day work experience Caelan got to job shadow our Log Purchase department and go Timber Cruising, learn about Log Scaling and Log Quality, head out with our Silviculture crew, spend time with our biology and forestry summer students, and learn about the importance of water monitoring with our hydrology team.

We began Caelan’s adventure into forestry with a safety briefing that required a review all of the job safety considerations for field work and office work. Caelan was also briefed on safe driving and road safety for travelling on resource roads.  He quickly learned that there is nothing more important to TimberWest than safety. On top of this, at each of his job shadowing experiences, Caelan was expected to show up in his safety gear, and undergo Site Safety Orientation which gave Caelan a firm understanding of his surroundings, and the type of safety risks associated with each job and site location. Yes, bears and wild animals make the list of safety considerations, and Caelan did an excellent job of being mindful of his forest surroundings.

“I really love being outdoors and in nature, so forestry really suits me,” says Caelan. “I learned that there are a variety of jobs in the forest industry that don’t actually involve harvesting trees, or sawmilling, and that these other jobs still involve being outdoors a lot! Which is great – especially in the summer.”

Caelan met with our Log Purchasing crew where he was taken to a do a stand evaluation. This means that the team goes into the woods and evaluates the trees to determine which trees best meet the needs of our various customers. “The purchasing team checks out the various stands to find exactly what the customer is looking for – which is neat because each species of tree, depending on size and quality, has specific customers here at home and around the world.”

When a tree is harvested, the log gets Scaled which is where Caelan went next, “The Log Scaler measures the cut tree to figure out the volume of wood and the quality of the wood. The value of the log can vary depending on the quality of the log and the type of wood. The Log Scaling and Quality department are responsible for measuring the wood and pricing the wood based on market value.”

Caelan had a pretty good understanding of how we meet our customer needs, and how the wood gets valued, so we felt it was time he learned about the environmental considerations that make up sustainable forest management. “I got to head out to Potts Lagoon on West Cracroft Island where TimberWest has a Tree Farm License, or TFL in forestry-speak. A TFL means that the forest is public land and belongs to the Province, and companies like TimberWest are granted a license from the Province to harvest and regenerate a specific area.

I learned about the second-growth harvesting practices and the reforestation activities of TimberWest. I hadn’t realized before that every tree harvested is replanted with two seedlings, which means millions of seedlings are planted every year on TimberWest’s lands.”

Caelan then met with our biology and forestry summer students to partake in survey work our students undertake every year. “Species management and habitat awareness are really important objectives in forestry. The biologists on staff at TimberWest work alongside the operations team to ensure that animal dens and streams are respected and well managed. All harvest plans require a thorough review by engineers, geologists and biologists to make sure buffers are considered before the plan gets signed off.

“It was really neat working in the woods to track animals, and it made sense that this data was collected to help inform operations and the rest of the team about areas of consideration. I also learned that TimberWest gets audited every year for its ISO 14001 environmental certification, and its Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification – these are two extra levels of scrutiny the company adheres to beyond Federal and Provincial regulation – this meant all the work we were doing in the woods was super important.”

Caelan finished his time with us learning about how we manage watersheds, “The hydrology and geology team are all about making sure that the water coming off a harvest is clean and that the roads are safe – it was really fascinating understanding how these things are measured. I got to do some chemistry along the side of a road, which I never thought I would be doing on my summer break!”

“Learning about the different jobs that are possible in the forest sector was a great experience. I have gained a new perspective about the sector, and about the types of career opportunities that may involve college or university.”

Caelan describes his time with TimberWest “As a great experience with people who have lots of knowledge and passion for their jobs.”  We were happy to learn that Caelan decided to enroll in the Vancouver Island University Natural Resource program following his grade 12 year. We look forward to working with Caelan in the near future!

TimberWest believes in supporting students interested in the forest sector, and offers several scholarships and yearly summer student opportunities.

Caelan in his natural element! Out in the woods on a beautiful summer day, checking the skies and tree branches for signs of Northern Goshawks.

Caelan conducting a water test sample of a stream under a forestry bridge.

Caelan working with the biology team to track Northern Goshawks. This tree has been labeled a wildlife feature and wrapped with caution tape around a 200 meter area.

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