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By Gillian Stauffer on June 14 2017
I would like to start this post by thanking FPAC for the opportunity to share my experiences this summer through this amazing internship. I would also like to thank West Fraser and everyone else who has taken the time to introduce me into this wonderful field. I’d like to introduce myself for my first blog post and give some insight into what I’ll be doing this summer. My name is Gillian and I am currently a student at the University of Alberta taking forestry. I knew growing up that I wanted a job where I got to be outdoors, but I didn’t know exactly what that job should be. My father is a forester, and my childhood was filled with trips to the bush to check out anything and everything forestry related. After graduating high school, still not knowing what I wanted to be, I got an offer to go play college basketball. This allowed me two more years to truly figure out what I wanted my career to be. In the end, I decided to follow my fathers footsteps, and I haven’t looked back since!
Last summer, I was hired as a Silviculture Assistant for Blue Ridge Lumber. I truly had an amazing summer. It was filled with quadding, auditing tree planters, watercourse assessments, and I even ended up becoming best friends with the other summer student I worked with. I have so many good memories of hard work but also some seriously goofy moments. I’ve included some pictures that show some of the activities we got up to last year.
I was so happy when I got the offer from Blue Ridge. Whitecourt is my hometown, which is 31 km away from Blue Ridge. Blue Ridge can be found by turning off of Highway 43, on to Highway 648, and then driving for about 6 minutes. While there are some people who live within the Hamlet of Blue Ridge, many workers in the area commute from the neighboring towns such as Whitecourt, Mayerthorpe, or Barrhead. Whitecourt is a great place to live. In 2013 and 2014, Whitecourt was named the forestry capital of Canada, and rightfully so. The Whitecourt area is home to three forestry companies: West Fraser, Millar Western, and Alberta Newsprint Company. We’re also the Snowmobile Capital of Alberta! In a future post I will talk about this wonderful place and the benefits that living in a small forestry town can provide.
I’m already a month into my current summer job and I can tell you right now, this summer is going to be excellent. I was hired this year to spend half my summer working Quality Control in the sawmill, and the other half in the woodlands division working around log quality. My supervisor is incredibly knowledgeable. He knows everything about the mill processes and I am so lucky to be able to learn from him. Before entering forestry, I had a previous summer job working within a planer mill. I loved the people there, everyone was so kind. This must be a common occurrence within the mill life though, as I have been treated and welcomed exceptionally well since arriving at the Blue Ridge sawmill. In another post, I will cover the various positions one can hold on the production side of forestry.
Quality control is a challenging position from the aspect that you need to know all of the details about every machine. My supervisor likes to remind me that I need to be a detective, and constantly question how something can be improved, or why something just isn’t working right. I also have another duty this summer. I will be creating videos that Blue Ridge can use to show people about their various mill functions. In these videos, I will be covering harvesting, the sawmill, planer mill, energy plant, kilns, the chipping system, and the shipping department. In future posts, I’ll try to give you a glimpse into everything I’ve learned so far!
Thank you so much for reading my first blog, please check back soon to see what I get up to next!