CORNER BROOK, NL
– Erin Pearson’s love for forestry and protecting our natural resources has been growing for some time, and it’s this deeply rooted passion that has led to her selection as one of only two Canadian recipients of a major bursary award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF).
The Deer Lake native is in her final year of study in the Forest Resources Technician (FRT) program at College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Corner Brook campus. In January, she applied for the CIF’s Prince of Wales Forest Leadership Award, and was recently told of her successful application, making her CNA’s first ever winner of the prestigious award. The timing couldn’t have come at a better time, says Pearson, because she wasn’t feeling well that week, but hearing the news put her, “on top of the world!”
Now in its fourth year, the award program is fully endorsed by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and is formed through a U.K. - Canada partnership between The Prince of Wales’ Duchy of Cornwall, the Institute of Chartered Foresters in the U.K., and CIF-IFC in Canada. The program’s funding is sponsored by The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation, and recognizes students and recent graduates who have actively engaged in forestry or natural resource management, as well as demonstrated a passion for the environment and a desire to solve complex problems.
Pearson and Daniel Root from the University of Toronto were selected from Canada, while Tom Haynes and Michael Wilson from the University of Cumbria, were selected among top United Kingdom applicants. The recipients will participate in an international work exchange in their respective partner countries during the summer of 2018. They will be placed in roles at some of the top forestry and natural resources management employers in, in addition to receiving a bursary of $12,000 CAD to cover expenses.
Pearson realizes this opportunity is a big deal, and along with providing an application and a list of three to five references, she had to write a 500-word essay that spoke about how she thought doing the exchange would benefit her knowledge of forestry and her employment opportunities in the future.
Her interest in forestry was piqued in high school, and, coupled with her summer job at Parks Canada, Pearson knew she wanted to be outdoors all day doing some of the things the park employees were when it comes to the forests. She chose CNA as the place to further her studies in this field.
“This award interested me from the beginning because the opportunity to travel to the U.K. and be exposed to what they do over there. The worst thing I could do is apply and not get it, so I just applied. My instructors always talked about the way they manage forests over in Europe is different than here in Canada, so I was interested in comparing them and seeing how they interact, and even potentially bringing some of those practices from one country to the next.”
Geraint Richards, Head Forester at the Duchy of Cornwall, says he is looking forward to meeting Erin when she spends the summer working in the U.K. forestry sector.
“Erin will, in fact, be the first Prince of Wales Forest Leadership Award recipient to come from Newfoundland and Labrador. I enjoyed the privilege of visiting Newfoundland in 2013, to attend the Canadian Institute of Forestry’s conference, so I am aware of the forest types and management practices that Erin will be familiar with,” said Richards.
“She will notice a significant difference in such things when she works in the U.K., but I am keen that she realizes that, despite these differences, so many of the challenges and opportunities we face in the forestry sector are the same wherever we live and work. The purpose of this award is to create a global network of young forestry professionals who can lead the sector going forward, understanding the common problems and helping find the solutions that will benefit us all.”
Colin Carroll, a former CNA instructor, is currently the director of regional services with the Forestry and Wildlife Branch of the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources in Corner Brook. He is also CIF’s First Vice-Chair and says CNA’s affiliation with CIF is strong, and the fact it is recognized with a Silver Ring ceremony
sponsored by CIF to honour graduates, adds to its prestige.
“We have a very healthy Newfoundland and Labrador section here, the college instructors are all members, and students participate as well. We get them involved in a lot of our local CIF events,” Carroll said. “We wanted to grow our international forestry portfolio to help students to get into working in the forestry sector, and to give students, who are going to be our future leaders, the experience of working in other countries.”
Carroll also notes this award is a wonderful opportunity to introduce graduates to the CIF and its membership, and is a “great segue to meeting contacts across Canada who are working in forestry with similar backgrounds, similar education and are working at similar issues.
“It’s an exciting time for someone from College of the North Atlantic to win. I have always believed the CNA forestry program to be a sound one. To me, it solidifies the college’s reputation in this sector. This award brings things full circle, and shows that the college program is comparable to any technician program across Canada. It produces sound forestry technicians, and we have benefitted from that here in the provincial government, from the CIF, and I know industry locally has benefitted as well.”
Carroll says this award win will definitely boost Pearson’s resume when she applies for employment or education opportunities.
Now Pearson has the opportunity to broaden her knowledge overseas when she expects to travel to the U.K. in June, which will be her first trip abroad. She anticipates doing some sightseeing and experiencing all things related to the forestry there; however, she doesn’t know if she will have the opportunity to meet anyone from the Royal family, but chuckles that it would be exciting if she does.
Pearson will receive her Silver Ring at a ceremony in Corner Brook March 22, and as part of her award win she will be eligible to attend the national CIF annual general meeting in Grand Prairie, AB in September. She also plans to continue her studies, if accepted, by pursuing a degree in forestry once she returns from the U.K.
To learn more about CNA’s Forest Resources Technician program, visit: www.cna.nl.ca
College of the North Atlantic