Annual Field Trip Explores Diverse Ecosystem on Vancouver Island
Selkirk College Forest Technology Program students deepened their understanding of British Columbia’s diverse terrain with a trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island last month.
The annual field trip included 16 second-year students who spent a week hiking and exploring ecosystems outside the West Kootenay terrain where the program is based.
“The coast and the interior are really different in terms of forest practices, forest operations and the ecology,” says Selkirk College Forest Technology Instructor Jesper Nielsen. “BC is such a huge province and once these students are registered technologists they could end up practicing anywhere so going from the interior to the coast can be like going to a different country.”
Students gather for a group shot on Vancouver Island during their recent field trip.
Nielsen and fellow instructor Carol Andrews polled students at the Castlegar-based program to see where they wanted to spend the important week. The consensus was to head west.
“They had shown an interest in seeing big trees because those old growth trees on the coast are not something you see the equivalent of in the interior,” says Nielsen. “Those sites and ecosystems were important so we planned part of the trip on the West Coast Trail.”
West Coast Trail Part of the Agenda
Students and instructors hiked 20 km of the West Coast Trail one day. They also did other hikes near Tofino, viewed an Island Timberlands operation, reviewed a First Nations tenure, and visited a shake and shingle mill in Surrey on the way back home.”
The trip was largely funded by the students’ own hard work. Students were tasked with cutting and selling a logging truck load of firewood donated by Interfor’s Nakusp operation. They also performed a variety of fieldwork for the Nakusp and Area Community Forest.
“These community partnerships are important to the success of this program,” says Nielsen. “We are very thankful to both Interfor and the Nakusp and Area Community Forest for their contribution to the education of this year’s class.”
With the second year students in the two-year program now prepared to graduate and head off in all different directions, Nielsen says the trip is likely to be a highlight of the school year.
“In some ways we wish we could do it earlier in the year, but logistically it’s not feasible to do that,” says Nielsen. “But after the trip everybody is a lot closer. You get to know a lot more about people when you go on a road trip. It’s actually a very small industry once you are part of it so these kinds of bonds will be lasting.”