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Pay it forward: pass on knowledge to future forestry leaders as a Green Mentor

June 21, 2021

Headshots of Lacey Rose and Julie Antler

By Lacey Rose, County Forester, County of Renfrew

When I started out in forestry, I was very lucky to be supported by kind and experienced co-workers. The demographic of our sector means that I’ve often been the youngest one by more than 20 years, so I feel very fortunate to have learned on the job from decades of experience ahead of me. My mentors gave me practical knowledge, but also confidence when I was starting out and quite unsure of myself. It’s helpful to have someone believe in you when you might not be sure of yourself yet!

I believe that my career path was made possible by the excellent mentors I have had, including Kathy Abusow, CEO and President of Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), who has acted as a sounding board and has provided advice in recent years.

I think it’s important to pay that forward. It makes me happy when students or people just starting out in the sector reach out to chat about their career path and options. I’m happy to share my experiences, but also very interested to hear what they envision for themselves. So, I decided to join PLT Canada’s Green Mentor program.

PLT Canada, an initiative of SFI, launched its mentorship program to help young people (ages 18-30) expand their forest and conservation knowledge, goals and network. The program connects them with Green Jobs professionals using an
industry-leading algorithm that creates successful mentorship matches based on personalities, goals, interests and more.

I’ve worked in the green sector for 15 years. Now, as the County Forester for the County of Renfrew, I manage forests owned by the municipal government, provide forestry education and outreach to schools and the communities in our area, and support the local forest sector. The path to my current role included a variety of jobs, such as a variety of student positions for forest companies in the Boreal forest. I was also an intern for the Ontario government and a plan author for a Sustainable Forest Licensee in Central Ontario.

As part of PLT Canada’s Green Mentor program, I was matched with Julie Antler, who recently graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Lakehead University.

Although I have already seen signs of this from others, it was nice to see Julie as an example of the next generation of forest and conservation leaders. I’m excited for the fresh ideas and perspectives they are bringing to help keep our green sector moving forward.

Julie and I spoke on an informal basis, whenever the need arose. We would catch up, discuss Julie’s options, and share information and resources.

For me, the best part of being a mentor is seeing your mentee succeed. Julie has gotten some great experience since I started mentoring her last year. She’s also really proactive in making herself an excellent job candidate. She is currently a Jr. Planning Forester/R.P.F. in Training with Bancroft Minden Forest Company Inc. Julie said:

“Lacey gave me valuable advice to grow personally and professionally. As I am a recent graduate, she was able to support me with job search, resume and interview tips. I gained insight on what the forest industry was like when she first started, and how she reached her current role as a forester. Her constant support is invaluable. I believe it is especially important for our field to promote mentoring relationships to give a hand to new professionals entering forestry.”

There is no disadvantage to having someone root for you, so it seems an obvious choice to sign up as a mentee.

But there are many rewards for mentors as well. It is very fulfilling. You get to know someone new to the field, give them tips to help advance professionally, and then see it happen.

Plus, I think we can all reflect back on the impact our mentors have had on ourselves—I still thank mine all the time! Passing on that knowledge is one way to help create the next leaders of the green sector. 

PLT Canada’s Green Mentor Program

The six-month mentorship program involves meeting up (in person or virtually) two or three hours a month. The program plays a key role in supporting young professionals and guiding them along their career path in the forest sector. It’s also designed to help increase diversity, as mentorship can help youth overcome barriers and find employment success.

Learn more about PLT Canada’s Green Mentor program.

This article also appears in The Working Forest.

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