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FORESTRY WEEK: School tours return during Forestry Week in Port Alberni

Students from SD70 will learn about forest diversity at McLean Mill
Students from Sarah Williams’ Grade 5/6 class at Tsuma-as Elementary School learn about trees from registered professional forester Paul Dagg during National Forest Week, Sept. 20, 2022. (PHOTO COURTESY SARAH WILLIAMS)

Students from at least two schools in Port Alberni will learn about the biodiversity of forests during a BC National Forest Week event on Thursday, Sept. 21.

Forest Week takes place in Canada during the third week in September In B.C. the week will be observed from Sept. 17–23, 2023. The goal for the week is to get people talking about forest heritage, and diverse groups—both governmental and non-governmental—raise awareness about the importance of forests to the country’s economy, culture, traditions and history.

MORE: SD70 students take part in National Forest Week

MORE: Port Alberni students get out in the field for National Forestry Week

This year the Canadian Institute of Forestry will hold its national conference and 115th annual general meeting in Nanaimo, B.C. from Sept. 24–27. National Tree Day is also observed on the Wednesday during National Forest Week.

Sarah Williams, who teaches a Grade 5/6 class at Tsuma-as Elementary School, will be bringing her class back again. Diana Bouchard’s Grade 4/5 class from John Howitt Elementary will also participate this year.

“This year’s theme is biodiversity,” says Dave Robinson, resource manager at South Island Natural Resource District. Students will be planting seedlings at McLean Mill, taking tree measurements of trees already on site and learning how to measure the height of a tree. The seedlings were donated this year by Woodmore Nursery Inc. of Nanoose Bay.

Robinson is glad to be back at McLean Mill for a Forest Week event. “It’s a really good venue for us to conduct some hands-on forestry things with students,” he said.

Foresters Paul Dagg and Mike Waters will work with one class, while Robinson, Allison Chen and Devon Barnes will work with the other class.

“Devon’s area of expertise is fire management,” Robinson said, and he will be talking about the FireSmart BC program within the context of wildfires.

Rumour has it that Ember the FireSmart Fox will make an appearance at the mill during the students’ tour. Ember is FireSmart’s official mascot.

The National Forest Week event used to draw hundreds of students to the heritage mill to learn about forestry and ecology until the coronavirus pandemic halted large gatherings. Port Alberni is known throughout the province for the model they have organized throughout the years. In 2022, Williams’ class was the first one to return for an on-site visit.

Robinson said word is spreading, and he may even see more than the 60 anticipated students at the 2023 event.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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