Lawrence Gaudry knew at a young age that he would one day pursue a career that involved him working outdoors.
Growing up in a remote Metis community in Manitoba, Gaudry found himself surrounded by forestland. His curiosity in the environment was further enhanced once he reached high school and excelled in an environmental sciences program.
It was a natural progression that led him to become a member of the Association of Saskatchewan Forestry Professionals (ASFP) and into his current role of harvesting superintendent at Edgewood Forest Products in Carrot River.
“If you grew up in remote and smaller community, you truly have some of the necessary tools already,” he said. “If you like the outdoors and if you like the environment, then it’s a great avenue to pursue a career.”
“Aboriginal people are connected to the environment and they’re connected to the land and they take great pride in looking after it.”
Teenagers and young professionals who covet a spacious office with a view coupled with a strong desire to work remotely should consider the fact that more than half of Saskatchewan is forested.
That’s approximately 34 million hectares in which to conduct business.
Monotonous days for forestry professionals are rare thanks to picturesque scenery, a vast landscapes and ever-changing weather. No two days are ever the same. Not many professions can boast about that style of work environment.
“This is more than just a job. It’s a way of life,” Gaudry said. “I think it’s something that if you have a passion for it and if it’s something you love doing – you love the outdoors – some days it doesn’t necessarily feel like a job.”
However, there is important work to be done to preserve Saskatchewan’s second-largest industry. Did you know that the forest industry generates more than $1 billion in forest product sales annually and supports nearly 8,000 direct and indirect jobs?
When in a forest, you’ll have a trained eye to detect invasive species, harmful insects or diseases that may affect the health of trees and their growth. Ensuring water quality levels meet a high standard, protecting against soil erosion and maintaining an overall healthy environment are some of the duties forestry professionals take on.
Strong interactive and communicative skills are important as well. Forestry professionals develop close working relationships with local trappers, hunters and fishermen who utilize the forest’s resources in different ways.
“As a forestry professional, it’s very important that we take into account everyone’s needs and wants to try to evaluate that into a pathway going forward,” Gaudry said.
Technological advancement has found more efficiencies for forestry professionals over the years. However, old-fashioned hands-on work is required at times.
Forestry professionals work in unison with the logging industry, meaning once the logging in various cutblocks is complete, forestry professionals are required to replenish the forest.That involves replanting and scarification (allowing trees to come back naturally).
For example, jack pine seeds will come back naturally, while softwoods like white spruce and black spruce will have to be planted physically.
But before any professional forester gets his or her hands dirty, they need to complete the required education. Every career needs a starting point.
“The first thing I’d ask anyone who is looking for a career in this field is, ‘What is your goal? What is your career path?’” Gaudry asked.
Those committed to a four-year education plan can earn a degree from the University of Saskatchewan and eventually be qualified to serve as a woodlands manager or with forest management or with the provincial government.
Two-year education pursuits also are available. Those who earn a diploma from Saskatchewan Polytechnic will have the opportunity to take on various jobs in the industry, including environmental site monitoring, among other unique careers related to forestry and the environment.
The ASFP is a vast network spread across the province. And membership certainly has its privileges.
“Being a part of the association is very beneficial,” Gaudry said.“They provide support and feedback if you encounter any problems or any issues in your day-to-day work. You have the opportunity to learn from mentors and people who have been in the industry for several years.”
“They promote continuing education and broadening your skillset and they provide you with those resources and with a direction on how best to take advantage of them.”
Find out more about the Association of Saskatchewan Forestry Professionals.