Adam Klassen in the Fundamentals of Forestry Harvesting (FFHP) program

Charting a new career path with Fundamentals of Forestry Harvesting Practices

July 22, 2021
Author: Eric Zimmer

Adam Klassen shares his story

After a seven-year stint as a heavy equipment operator in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Adam Klassen decided it was time for a change. 

“I was exhausted with commuting weekly [and] I wanted to seek work closer to home,” he says. Through a co-worker of his girlfriend, Adam found out about VIU's Fundamentals of Forestry Harvesting Practices (FFHP) certificate program.

The program piqued Adam’s interest in “the local opportunities of a career operating in the forestry sector,” and he decided to enroll.

Tuition-free, and held over a 12-week period, the program is based in Woss, BC, and includes elements such as skills training, occupational skills, hazard assessment, and workplace experience. The program is based on competencies identified by the BC Forest Safety Council. Accommodation and all appropriate PPE is provided free of charge, as well.

For Adam, highlights of the program included “the hands-on experiences, and working outdoors” – particularly ideal aspects amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Working in nature made it easier to adapt to COVID protocols, as we were able to establish physical distancing,” he says.

As well, the chance to take part in field operations “that benefit northern communities was a great opportunity to exercise team work and leadership,” says Adam. “It was essential for crew bonding with the other students and citizens.” 

Since completing the program, Adam says he has found full-time employment locally as a loader operator.

And for those considering FFHP, and future career opportunities in the forestry sector for themselves, Adam offers some advice.

“Establish a network with your instructors, fellow students, local citizens, and employers,” he says. “Contact the North Island Employment Foundation for financial and other support while partaking in the program.”

When seeking employment, Adam advises people to address each potential employer specifically and directly “and emphasize your devotion to the industry,” he says. “Create a strong resume and immediately update it with your new tickets.”

Applications for the August 2021 intake of the FFHP program are still being accepted. Email heo@viu.ca for further information.

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