Following my Passion into Community-Based Agroforestry

June 12, 2020

Sean Larsen is a summer student with the Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society. Here he is taking in the majestic trees on a hike up to Deeks Lake about 40 kilometres north of Vancouver.

By Sean Larsen

I’ve always wondered how to combine my passion for the environment with a possible career. For example, I often think about buying land and moving to northern B.C. There, I would be able to grow trees and mixed crops and raise animals (a practice called agroforestry) to enhance food security in nearby communities.

Community forests support sustainability

I’m currently working with the Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society as a summer student, which is awesome. The organization is part of a network of community forests in British Columbia that embody the three pillars of sustainable development: social, ecological, and economic. Its mission is to act as a steward of forest resources for the long-term environmental and economic sustainability of five communities in the south-central Interior of B.C.

One of the really exciting things about working with the Lower North Thompson Community Forest Society is getting to support foresters and getting to learn first‑hand about sustainable forestry. My job description is pretty broad: I do tree‑planting, surveying, build picnic tables, and mechanical brushing, which is removing unwanted plants around trees using a string trimmer with a circular blade. 

There is also a portable sawmill that the organization uses to build cabins, which I’m keen to learn more about. I’m close to finishing my carpentry apprenticeship and I’d like to figure out ways to incorporate being a carpenter with agroforestry.

Studying urban forestry connected my passion for communities with my passion for forests

Everything I’ll be doing this summer will contribute to the sustainable management of the Lower North Thompson Community Forest and support of the local community. My Green Job is also a great fit for my undergraduate studies at UBC in urban forestry, which I plan on completing in 2021.

Charting your path during troubled times

A lot of my friends are having trouble landing jobs because of COVID-19. I’ve been asked about how I managed to get such a great job. There’s no easy answer, but my main advice is to reach out and network with people.

My job, for example, is a co-op position, and I’m not even a co-op student. But because of my passion for forests and communities, I decided to reach out to the British Columbia Community Forest Association, and they told me about some co-op positions through UBC. I convinced the co-op coordinator that I was the right fit, and I got the job.  

Follow your passion for forests, and good things will happen.

PLT Canada’s Green Jobs program is supported in large part by our employer networks at the Canadian Parks Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Check out the PLT Canada Mentorship Program for Youth in Forestry and Conservation and PLT Canada’s Green Jobs E-Summits. PLT Canada is an initiative of SFI.


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