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Camp exposes career opportunities and learning to high schoolers

SMITHERS Every fall, the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) puts on Natural Resource Management Career Awareness Camps to encourage students in grades 10-12 to consider forestry-related careers. Staged this year near Telkwa, Northwest Community Colleges (NWCC) Rick Budhwa and Regina Saimoto provided workshops related to fisheries and archaeology to approximately 40 high school students from Houston, Smithers and Hazelton. This is the eighth time in the last nine years NWCC has participated in the annual event. The camp represents an excellent opportunity for high school students to learn about a range of careers related to forestry and natural resource management by participating in hands-on workshops delivered by local experts. Students get to try out equipment, collect data, identify fish, and talk to professionals in the industry to see what it takes to work in forestry. It also provides an excellent opportunity for post-secondary institutions to talk about the value of post-secondary education. Its a hands-on way to meet students and teachers, said Budhwa, a University Credit professor. By having local experts, the camp also shows how many of the skills are transferable between different natural resource sectors. The camp brings students from various schools together, and broadens their understanding of the forest industry and the natural resource industry as a whole, adds Saimoto, NWCC Campus Principal in Houston and Smithers. She says the camps help students become more aware of the balancing act between development and the protection of natural and cultural resources. The camp also encourages students to consider post-secondary education, and especially, options closer to home. By involving community experts, post-secondary institutions and schools, the camp helps build community and relationships. In addition, the camp introduces students to instructors and staff at the local colleges, and builds stronger connections that help welcome students to the college and eases their transition to post-secondary institution. It also helps students see the connection between what they are studying now and how it is relevant to careers in natural resource management. "It was something different and adventurous, said Hazelton Secondary Schools Lia Lazzarotto. Although we might not all go into the forest industry, we all learned important information and we had a blast. The camp is made possible by several contributors. COFIs Chris Lear sets up the camp. Pacific Inland Resources arranges for field sites, permits and some experts to provide workshops; NWCC and College of New Caledonia provide information on their post-secondary programs and assist with workshops; the Ministry of Environment and the Smithers Exploration Group provide some field gear to augment the fisheries workshop; and the Ministry of Forest and Range fire protection branch also provides workshops.

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