At an event in Spirit Square on Monday, forestry students and children as young as 11 had a chance to test out heavy logging equipment… virtually.
Vancouver Island University (VIU) brought the trailer full of simulators to Campbell River for Forestry Proud Day, an event promoting the forestry sector.
Kevin Levins, an instructor in the heavy equipment operator program at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, said the simulators help students learn the basics before starting work in the bush.
“Once you have that mental ability to know what the controls do, it saves us about a week in industry… when you get into the real machines,” Levins said.
A dozen students from VIU’s fundamentals of forestry program in Woss travelled to Campbell River to try out the simulators and take part in Forestry Proud Day activities, said Kellie Spence, program assistant for trades and applied technology.
“Next week they’re actually heading out into the bush,” Spence said.
The forestry program covers a variety of skills meant to prepare students for jobs in the industry, ranging from safe work practices to chainsaw operation.
Young children also got a chance to test out the machines.
“It’s really fun… it’s sort of like hockey and baseball,” said Nicholas Joyce, 11, after trying out a Komatsu log processor simulator with his father, Trevor Joyce, a manager at Interfor.
Monday’s event in Campbell River was organized by Forestry Friendly Communities (FFC), an industry group that was founded in 2016, according to its website.
The forestry industry supports one in 16 jobs in B.C., contributes more than $12 billion to the provincial GDP and “injects $2.5 billion in taxes and fees to the three levels of government,” according to the FFC website.
The group provides scholarships worth up to $1,500 to students pursuing a career in forestry, and two of last year’s recipients, Jackson Locker and Makayla Berger, spoke at the event in Campbell River, according to a spokesperson for the group. The event also featured a BBQ and other activities.
Three scholarships will be awarded this year, and information about applying for the scholarships can be found at forestryfriendly.ca/scholarships.
The group sold toques at Monday’s event to raise money for the scholarships, and the toques can also purchase toques online at forestryfriendly.ca/toques-for-tuition.