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BC Interior Forest Education News

West Kootenay Forest Education
Darcee O'Hearn (Forest Educator)

West Kootenay Forest Education Van Fall Tour

Forest Education is still active in the West Kootenay, despite the economic challenges in the forest industry at the moment. To date, we have only a small number of local companies keeping us afloat, making program funding for the coming year uncertain. Sounds like a doom and gloom story? Not to me!! There is one thing I know for sure and that is that there will always be a forest industry because we will always need trees and people to look after them.  That is the message I continue to reinforce when someone asks about the fate of our industry.

Each year, our program uses the Interior Logging Association's forest education van to attend local events such as the Rock Creek Fall Fair and other community fall fairs, National Forest Week Celebrations, BC Rivers Day, spring festivals and school district wide tours. The ILA van is truly an excellent mobile educational resource for our organization, teaching students and the community members about the many diverse aspects of our forest resource and the forest industry.

The Rock Creek Fall Fair is definitely one of my favourite events to attend with the forest education van.  This annual weekend event has been a huge success for our Education Program in past years. It is a chance to meet people of all ages with various backgrounds, some of whom are currently employed in forestry. For old timers, it is an opportunity to share stories about the days when many of them worked in the forest industry.

The Rock Creek Fall Fair is definitely one of my favourite events to attend with the forest education van.  This annual weekend event has been a huge success for our Education Program in past years. It is a chance to meet people of all ages with various backgrounds, some of whom are currently employed in forestry. For old timers, it is an opportunity to share stories about the days when many of them worked in the forest industry.

As I spoke to the thousands of people who made their way through the van at this year's fair, overwhelming concern was expressed about the beetle epidemic by many of the visitors. They were hopeful that constructive use could be found for the beetle wood, wherever possible, to avoid having it waste away in our forests, emitting the carbon it once stored.  One fellow wanted the rights to fall green attack beetle wood and haul it out, using a technique that would have very little impact to the standing trees left behind.  He planned to turn them into wood pellets to heat homes.  Another gentleman wanted to mill the wood and build homes and other small scale projects.  Many more examples were presented over the weekend- if only there was a perfect solution!!

The staff from FOR:EX (Kootenay Lake Forest District) celebrated National Forest Week again this year at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park with my role being to host the ILA forest education van as one of the stations . Over 250 Grade 5 students and approximately 30 parents and volunteers attended the event. It was a beautiful day in the woods with all the students travelling through the different activities prepared for them. One station had deer jerky to taste and the instructor was astonished when over 90% of the students tried it!!

The United Way sponsored its first annual Harvest Country Fair event in Trail in late September. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge about the forest industry and my tree stories with the adults and children who came to visit. While attendance was somewhat disappointing this year, I anticipate that it will increase in the coming years as public awareness about the event grows. Interest groups ranged from an organic community garden selling their wares, the local SPCA and local artisans to other educational displays such as my station with the Interior Logging Association's forest education van.

This fall, the new teacher resource, “Climate Change and our Forests” and "Climate Change- Our Forests, Our Future" will be delivered to all BC elementary and secondary schools, including the West Kootenay Forest Education Zone. Produced by Chris Lear, Forest Education Manager from the Council of Forest Industries (Northern Operations) in partnership with Forestry Innovation Investment, these new curriculum-based kits include lesson plans, suggested research topics, supplementary teaching materials, DVD's with a powerpoint presentation, activity sheets and posters.   The binders are excellent resources and will be a valuable new tool for  elementary and secondary educators.

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