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Out to Seed in the York Regional Forest

Posted: November 23, 2016

by Suzanne Perry

I knew very little about the forestry sector when I was in high school.  Back then, my idea of forestry consisted of a bunch of

Students at York Region Forestry connects learned how to perform cut tests to determine viability of a seed.

Students at York Region Forestry connects learned how to perform cut tests to determine viability of seed.

lumberjacks cutting down trees. I knew nothing about silviculture, forest management, or that Ontario has some of the most sustainably managed forests in the world.

I recently had the pleasure of developing a workshop for high school students at Forestry Connects, a Forests Ontario program that aims to educate high school students about forestry by allowing them to see operations first hand and take part in a number of hands-on activities. When I was in school, I would have loved to have been a part of a program like this, spending the day outside and learning about trees.

As someone relatively new to the field it was gratifying to take on the educator role. I was lucky enough to be part of the York Region event, where I taught students about seed forecasting and seed collection. Seed forecasting involves identifying good seed sources, based on a number of genetic and environmental factors, and then going back later in the season to collect the fully mature seed from those trees.

So why is this important? Knowing where your seed comes from is important when planning for a tree plant as these trees, when matched correctly to the site, will be genetically adapted to withstand environmental stressors. I was thrilled to be able to talk about a topic I’m passionate about, especially to students, who bring an excitement and energy that is unlike an older, professional audience.

Since the intention was not to bore everyone to death, the workshop was interactive and we did several activities as a group.  The students were able to see seed samples from a variety of coniferous and deciduous trees and perform a number of cut and float tests to determine their viability. Teaching high school students was a new experience for me, since in the past I’ve predominantly taught younger children. It proved to be quite rewarding, which is a testament to the type of students this program attracts. The students were interested and inquisitive, asking intelligent and thought-provoking questions.  For most, this was a new topic for them which made it easy to capture their attention.

I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to teach students who came from different schools and backgrounds but who all had a common interest. I think programs like Forestry Connects are incredibly important in giving students that first-hand experience to learn about forestry. It broadens their knowledge and encourages them to consider careers in the natural resources and environmental sectors, both of which are becoming increasingly recognized on the global stage.

If you would like to learn more about seed forecasting and seed collection please visit Forests Ontario’s website here:  http://www.forestsontario.ca/community/get-involved/seed-forecasting/

 

Suzanne Perry is the Forestry Outreach Coordinator at Forests Ontario.  Her main roles involve connecting with landowners and the delivery of communications efforts related to Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program.  Suzanne graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Biology and then went on to complete the Masters of Forest Conservation Program at the University of Toronto.