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By Jeff White on June 16 2017
Hello, my name is Jeff White. I grew up in 100 Mile House B.C. and am working this summer back in my hometown with West Fraser as a Planning Summer Student. I have not taken a traditional path to picking a career in forestry so I thought it would be best to explain a bit about my background and what made me choose to pursue a career in the forest industry.
I have been accepted into the Masters of Sustainable Forest Management program at the University of British Columbia and have classes starting in the middle of August this year. This program is unique; it’s a Master’s program that is designed for professionals who have previously completed a Bachelor’s degree in another discipline to pursue a career in the forest industry without having to start a new bachelor’s degree. The Master’s of Sustainable Forest Management degree takes place over 9 months and is accredited with the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) which allows you to attribute all of your time spent in the program towards your RPF (Registered Professional Forester) articling period which takes two years. I have recently been granted the status of Forester in Training from the ABCFP.
Prior to taking the leap to forestry, I completed a Bachelor of Tourism Management degree from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops BC in 2011. Throughout my undergrad, I would return to 100 Mile House every summer to work at West Fraser in Silviculture. My dad was the Woods Manager with West Fraser in 100 Mile House and was able to help me obtain a summer job even though forestry wasn’t my discipline of study. I learned a lot during those first few summers about myself, my Dad’s career in the industry and the importance of the Forest Industry to my hometown.
Upon completion of my Bachelor of Tourism Management Degree I got a job working with T’kemlups te Secwepemc (Kamloops Indian Band) on a Comprehensive Community Plan to help develop a decision making tool to help guide Chief and Council on the aspirations of their community members. This was an incredible opportunity for me to learn about the challenges that face Aboriginal communities throughout Canada. I learned about difficult topics like Residential School and the intergenerational trauma that resulted. I also experienced the immense strength of aboriginal people and was inspired to share this experience with people to help stimulate the conversation around aboriginal rights and reconciliation in Canada. Unfortunately, my position with T’kemlups came to an abrupt end due to funding issues and I was left searching for an outlet to build on this experience.
That winter, I returned to West Fraser with increased responsibilities and began to develop an understanding of what it would be like to pursue a career in the industry. However, my education was holding me back from truly taking the next step in a forestry career and that meant returning to school for further studies. Having had such an incredible experience working with T’kemlups I decided it would be best to try and use my existing education to continue the learning I had started with Aboriginal communities in BC and set out to find an organization that was leading the way.
I was soon introduced to the BC Aboriginal Mine Training Association (BCAMTA) which had found success in Kamloops bridging the gap between First Nations and industry while helping Aboriginal people find employment in the mining industry. BCAMTA had recently expanded to have several offices spread throughout the province and I was hired as the Employment Coordinator with the responsibility of helping candidates who had worked through our process to find employment opportunities. BCAMTA was incredibly successful and I am proud to say I was part of a team that helped 1000+ Aboriginal people find employment in BC’s resource sector. After 2 years, once again, funding became an issue for BCAMTA and we were forced to close our doors.
My girlfriend Melissa and I decided this was a great opportunity to travel and we spent the next year living in the United Kingdom and traveling throughout Europe.
Upon returning home I got a job with BC Hydro in Vancouver as a Community Outreach Representative which was an incredible opportunity that had our team travel around the province to various events talking to people about BC Hydro and how to conserve energy. Yet after a year at BC Hydro and living in the city, I really missed living in a small community and working outside every day. It was at this point that my journey came full circle and I began researching ways that I could return to the Forest Industry.
I am looking forward to sharing my summer with you all and show you some of the best parts of working in this industry and out on the land, exploring new places everyday.