Students in the driver’s seat

E.W. Pratt High School Grade 12 student Thayne Schur-Auger, left, sits in the driver’s seat at the controls of a forestry simulator at the High Prairie school May 7-9. Woodland Learning Foundation forestry instructor Bevan Davidson stands by the screen.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

E.W. Pratt students were given hands-on experience in the driver’s seats of a forestry simulator that visited the High Prairie school May 7-11.

Simulators of heavy- duty equipment returned to the school for the third straight year from the Woodland Operators Learning Foundation, affiliated with Northern Lakes College and established by forest resource stakeholders.

“I want to get some experience and I’ll probably operate a machine like this in real life,” says Grade 12 student Thayne Schur-Auger.

“I want to work in the forest industry.”

Students operate the computerized forestry simulators for six hours as part of their education program.

“It’s kind of complicating to operate at first, but you get use to it,” Schur-Auger says.

“You have to practice.”

Paul Leonardis, Grade 11, was urged to take the program from a career coach.

“I enjoy it and I can see myself operating a real machine,” Leonar- dis says.

“At first, it’s difficult to operate, but it gets easy after a while.”

The simulators are part of the Alberta Distance Learning program.

“We’re trying to expose more young people to the forestry industry and career options,” says foundation forestry instructor Bevan Davidson.

“There will be a labour shortage in Alberta and British Columbia due mainly to retirement and not a lot of young people are getting into it.”

Students earn high school credits in the program, says career coach Diane Bellerose.

“All these experiences are part of the transition planning into the workforce and post-secondary education for students,” Bellerose says.

“It’s a big part of our focus to expose students to a variety of careers in all sectors.

“The more we bring to the school, the more opportunities they have to build their experiences and options.”

Before getting into the driver’s seat, students were required to complete online computer courses in forest protection and stewardship and research and development related to the industry.


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