July 21, 2020 12:01 pm Leave your thoughts
For this third blog, I decided to interview my supervisor Peggy for some insight into what it’s like to work in forestry. Peggy is the Silviculture and Tree Improvement Supervisor here at Mercer Peace River, where she works to regenerate harvested aspen stands using mainly “Leave for Natural” strategies because of aspen’s ability to regenerate through suckering. Even so, there are tree planting, seeding, site preparation and stand tending operations that she oversees. She has been my supervisor for two summers and has worked for MPR for over 10 years.
Peggy has known she wanted to work in forestry since she was only about 10 years old and stuck with it ever since. Her love of being outside, and a forester uncle in the family helped her decide to pursue a forest technology program followed by a forestry degree. During post-secondary Peggy spent her summers working in forestry and never stopped. From planning, growth and yield, silviculture and tree improvement, she has held a variety of different positions, and advises prospective foresters to do the same:
“My advice to summer students who want a career in forestry is to spend your summers working in the field of forestry and try to get as much varied experience as you can so you will be able to decide what avenue of forestry you want to pursue. You may want to work in Harvest operations, or Management Plan Planning or research. Try working with government, industry (both coniferous users and deciduous users) and contractors.”
One of my favourite things that I get to work on with Peggy is the Leddy Lake Interpretive Trail, where we would normally be hosting field trips and which has to be maintained in the summer, as well as other forestry education programs in the community that she organizes. For her, the trail and the field trips are important because they allow elementary students to “get outside and they get to learn hands-on about the Boreal Forest and its values to society”. For Peggy, her childhood experiences outdoors are what made her certain she would pursue forestry, and she reminds us that a positive experience can have a similar effect on other children.
When I asked in what ways working in northern Alberta is different from previous places she has lived on the East coast and in northern Ontario she answered, “MUD!!!” As I quickly learned after beginning my position at Mercer last May, road conditions have a tremendous impact on forestry operations… Evidently the soft ground here was a big change from the Great Canadian Shield, as a rain storm can quickly turn a smooth gravel road into an invitation to get stuck. In addition to the muddy surprises of northern Alberta, Peggy says that she was not expecting the team-oriented atmosphere that she found in forestry. This was a pleasant surprise as she enjoys pursuing goals with others, and working with people who have similar interests, notably the outdoors.
Some final wise advice from Peggy, “You will know if you have chosen the right career if you love what you are doing”. While there will always be good days and bad, she reminds us to do what we are passionate about and that if we are passionate about the outdoors and the environment, a career like hers may be the one for you!
Herbarium Tip of the Week:Through trial and error, I have learned that roll on double-sided tape/glue is a great way to mount plants without the damaging effects of white glue, the tendency of a glue stick to stick to EVERYTHING and ensures that nothing is obstructing the view of your plants.