I don’t think my introduction to forestry is typical: I was tired of waiting tables, so one day I walked into West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill and told them I wanted to start working for them.
The first day on the job, I heard there was a course for lumber graders. I took it, did well on the exam and started as a lumber grader right away. That’s how I started in forestry!
A year later, I moved to Hinton and I started working at Hinton Wood Products. On my own initiative, I decided to get my 4th class power engineer certification while on maternity leave. When I returned to the mill I was able to move into a Power Engineer role and the mill ended up reimbursing my tuition, which I didn’t expect. I am not shy of hard work. My experience at West Fraser is that if you take the steps, do the hard work, earn it and prove yourself, there’s more opportunity than you realize.
For a number of years as a Power Engineer I ran the lumber kilns and then the mill’s energy system. An electrical apprenticeship opportunity came up and I decided to sign up for it. I know I have proved I can work hard and achieve what I set out to do. Now that I am apprenticing at the mill, I love that I feel like I am learning something new every shift.
When it gets right to it, the most important thing for me is my family. I’m a single mom so it’s sometimes tough to balance my education, shift work and volunteering as the head coach for my two boy’s hockey teams – but we manage. We sit down and do our homework together at the kitchen table! I like working at West Fraser and doing what I do because I can advance myself and still be there for my family.