The Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, and partners in the Forest Industry hosted their annual Forestry Days at Kokanee Creek Park on September 26th. Grade 5 Students from School District 8 - Kootenay Lake, as well as from private schools in the region, were invited to partake in a full day of activities and outdoor forest fun.
Organizer Russell Holitzki, RPF Practices Forester, explained that the annual event is meant to encourage greater public awareness of Canada’s forests. “We want to share the values of the forest with the kids in the hope that they learn a few things today, and have some fun too!” said Holitzki.
Students from Redfish Elementary and Brent Kennedy were happy to keep the beat with drums and accompany Gail Higginbottom, District Principal of Aboriginal Education and Danica Weager, District Indigenization Coordinator in an opening indigenous song. Aboriginal Academic Success Teacher Andrea Mann was also instrumental in school visits to Brent Kennedy Elementary in advance of the event.
Higginbottom was honoured to be invited to open the event with an indigenous welcome, sharing “Today is a celebration of traditional ways of knowing, and land-based learning.”
The remainder of the day required volunteers from the Ministry, the Kootenay Lake Forestry Centre and multiple forestry contractors running stations that groups of students could cycle through. Approximately 270 students discovered more about Logging, Wood Products & Safety, Aging and Forest Art, Wildfire and Forest Health. There was a free lunch provided by Kalesnikoff Lumber and a Scavenger hunt too.
First established in the 1920’s as Forest Fire Prevention Week, the awareness campaign has grown to include the many layers of forest management and is now known as National Forest week (NFW). National Forest Week is coordinated nationally by the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) and in BC by the National Forest Week BC Coalition, a group of volunteers from the Association of BC Forest Professionals.