Southland Forestry Open Day attracts local students

April 1, 2021
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With the enthusiastic support of industry front-line staff, the 2021 Be the Future of Forestry Day went off without a hitch in Winton on 18 March. Even the weather played ball, the sun shining after several days of heavy rain.

The event, organised by Southland Youth Futures in partnership with Rayonier Matariki Forests and Future Foresters, was a chance for young people to explore forestry career and training options across the entire timber supply chain – from seedling production, forest planning, silviculture and harvesting to transport and logistics, timber processing and log exporting. Technology in forestry, the environmental benefits of forestry in sequestering carbon, and emerging career opportunities associated with Government emission reduction policies were also promoted.

More than 80 students from eight secondary schools and three other educational providers attended, along with 15 teachers, tutors and parents. First time-attendees included a small group from a Southland alternative education class, and seven students and two teachers from East Otago High School in Palmerston, north of Dunedin, who left at 6.30am to make it to Winton on time. Six of the EOHS students are involved with a secondary school forestry course run by Steve Johnson and Toko Training, Milton.

Southland Youth Futures is a career exploration and pre-employability skills programme offered through Great South, the Southland Regional Development Agency. The first Be the Future of Forestry Day was held in 2019. This year’s event was bigger and better than ever, including four career presentations (Amy Robinson and Matt Thwaites, Rayonier), Callum Kyle (Ernslaw One) and Matt Cotterrell (City Forests), a mini expo, and a chance to experience a forestry harvesting simulator and inspect trucks and machinery.

Students took part in activities such as flying a drone; using a vertex; measuring and grading logs; using a log traceability app, measuring how much carbon a tree stores; identifying tree seeds; taking a virtual tour of a timber processing factory; inspecting a truck engine; handling chainsaws and silviculture equipment; and watching a hiab truck and harvest processing head in action.

Ernslaw One is raising freshwater kōura (crayfish) in forestry ponds in Otago and Southland. Aquaculture manager Callum Kyle brought some kōura with him, including rare blue specimens. Students and adults were fascinated to touch and photograph the crustaceans, while there was great hilarity when Callum organised kōura races at his table.

A number of students indicated they were interested in knowing more about forestry, with follow up talks and tours planned in the next few months. Feedback from the day was extremely positive. Here are some comments:

“I go to a lot of careers days and this would be the best without a doubt. The kids are interested, and you have great industry input.” – Phil Williams, Dunedin, Competenz ITO.

“We bought 21 students from James Hargest College (Invercargill). It’s been an excellent day. To see the variety of jobs available in the forestry industry and career pathways is ideal for the Primary Industries course I am teaching. And to see the technology that is now being used is exciting for the kids. It draws them in. Having a mix of speakers from someone who has done a degree at university to someone who has come up from the shop floor, so to speak, was an excellent way to reach the kids.” – Andrew Shepherd, James Hargest College teacher.

“I’ve brought along a Nissan truck which carts wood pellets, sawdust, fertiliser – anything in bulk. I like coming to Southland Youth Futures events. I like showing the kids the latest and greatest gear. It’s good to see them getting inside the cab, having a look around and playing with a few buttons, especially on the big new expensive trucks. This one is worth half a million dollars. You can buy two houses in Bluff for that.’’ – Paul Williamson, DT King.

Thank you for organising such a successful day! My students are still talking about it. The day was filled with a lot of interesting and interactive activities. We really liked how the employers talked with the students and were so friendly and informative. – Carol Tawhai, Aurora College, Invercargill.

The day would not have been possible without the wonderful contribution from forestry industry companies, trainers and others – Rayonier Matariki Forests, City Forests, Ernslaw One, Forest Management Ltd, NFA, OneForest, Competenz, Sparrow Logging, McCallum Logging, Arborgen Edendale, DT King, Niagara, McNeill, South Port, Mike Hurring Logging, Steve Johnson Forestry Services, D&D Heavy Haulage, and Great South Carbon Neutral Advantage project. Rayonier and the Southern Wood Council also generously supported the day with sponsorship.

Source: Southland Youth Futures