After biking over 9,000 kms across Canada, Zac Wagman, Green Jobs Manager for Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) – an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) – completed the Green Ride for Green Jobs today at the Terry Fox Mile 0 Monument in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
Wagman’s journey began in Victoria, B.C., on May 13, and took him through over 100 communities across nine provinces where he met with over 230 Green Jobs youth and over 50 employers. The youth Wagman met on his ride were just some of the 2,000 students that PLT Canada helped to place in green jobs since 2018 with support from over 150 employers across Canada and funding provided by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.
Wagman’s arrival coincided with National Forest Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the natural heritage and benefits of one of Canada’s greatest renewable resources. Our forests provide opportunities for employment, recreation, conservation and a wide range of innovative forest products. One such innovation is the wooden bicycle that Wagman rode throughout his journey. Manufactured by Picolo Velo in Montreal, the bike was recently SFI-certified – ensuring that the wood used in the manufacturing process comes from responsibly managed forests.
“This journey was not just about completing a bucket list item, but I also saw it as an opportunity to connect with the youth and employers impacted by our Green Jobs program,” says Wagman. “The diversity of jobs I learned about was amazing, such as forest technicians, Indigenous knowledge coordinators, wildlife technicians, park rangers, and invasive species interns – all critical roles that contribute to the sustainability of one of our greatest natural resources. It really educated me on the diversity of opportunities, and I hope to take this knowledge forward to inspire more youth to consider a career in the great outdoors”
Wagman’s ride, including youth and employer engagement, as well as other biking adventures such as bear sightings and Canada’s challenging weather, was documented and shared across social media channels over the past five months. The coverage and engagement helped amplify Wagman’s efforts to bring the personal stories of green jobs to life and inspire a future generation of leaders. His passion for elevating youth resulted in Canadian Forest Industries magazine naming Wagman as one of the industry’s Top 10 under 40, an award that prioritizes a strong work ethic, leadership by example, and efforts to grow the quality of Canada’s forest sector.
“We are proud of Zac’s achievements and how this ride helped promote environmental literacy, stewardship and career pathways using trees and forests as windows on the world. It is because of our strong networks at the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Canadian Parks Council that we will reach our goal of supporting over 2,000 youth in green jobs across the country,” says Kathy Abusow, President and CEO of PLT Canada. “These youth have learned important skills that will position them for success as they continue to explore their career options. Working experiences are critical to building skills, but we also understand that a lot of youth are still trying to navigate their career paths and could use support along the way. We are excited to be working on building these supports to serve diverse youth.”
PLT Canada has also achieved gender balance in its Green Jobs placements and has provided a great deal of support to Indigenous youth. Thanks to continued funding from the Government of Canada, PLT Canada will be developing additional value-added career supports including mentorship, networking and career resources to inspire more youth to enter green careers, and employer education to encourage and support employers to hire more youth.
The Green Ride for Green Jobs was made possible by sponsors including West Fraser, Millar Wester, Resolute Forest Products, Forest Products Association of Canada, Domtar, Mosaic Forest Management, Canfor, EACOM Timber Corp., Western Canada SFI Implementation Committee, Central Canada SFI Implementation Committee, Acadian Timber, and Fleming College. To learn more, visit www.mygreenjob.ca.
Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada) believes in a society that values and benefits from sustainably managed forests and the natural world. PLT Canada is committed to using the outdoors to engage youth in learning about the world around them—in rural, Indigenous and urban communities—and using trees and forests as windows on the world to inspire action and grow the next generation of future forest and conservation leaders. Since 2018, the organization has placed over 2,000 youth in Green Jobs, thanks in large part to the incredible support of partners across both the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and Canadian Park Council networks. The PLT Canada Green Jobs program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. Project Learning Tree is an initiative of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.