Whenever he’s on the job in Northern B.C. forests, Luke Friesen finds himself thinking about things he learned at the College of New Caledonia.
“Pretty much everything I do on a daily basis can connect back to the foundation of stuff at CNC,” says Friesen, a 2019 graduate of the Natural Resources and Forest Technology program. “I’ve learned a pile on the job but having that base knowledge has been huge for me.”
After he finished his first year of the two-year NRFT diploma program, Friesen joined Strategic Management Consulting as a summer student. Upon completion of his studies, he had a full-time position waiting for him with the company and is now a development technician in Strategic’s Timber Development and Engineering department. Friesen does what he calls “boots-on-the-ground forestry.” Before any harvesting takes place, he’s onsite to carry out duties such as block layout, road layout and riparian assessments.
“Even after the first year in the program, it was a huge help starting in the industry,” Friesen says. “Once you get into second year, the courses build off of each other and you just dig deeper into more knowledge and detail.”
Friesen, 23, grew up in Fraser Lake, a small community west of Prince George known for its spectacular natural settings. Already an outdoor enthusiast, he started thinking about a career in forestry in his Grade 10 year when he attended a school-based seminar called Project Forest Management. Around the same time, he went to a presentation put on by the Council of Forest Industries, which further piqued his interest. After high school graduation, Friesen landed a job with a logging business owned by a family friend and that solidified his desire to build a career in the forest sector.
During his time at CNC, Friesen’s hard work in the NRFT program paid off in the form of scholarships, bursaries and a national honour – the Canadian Institute of Forestry Gold Medal Award.
“It’s really one of those programs that, I believe, you get out of it what you put into it,” he says. “I think if a person puts a lot into it, you can really absorb a lot. The professors, they’re all professionals who have worked in the industry for a lot of years in various aspects. When you’re learning about a certain aspect, it really is focused and they really do know what they’re talking about because they do have real-life, hands-on experience.”
For anyone interested in following a path into forest management and technology, Friesen recommends the NRFT program. By making it part of his own journey, he finds himself in a career he loves.
“There aren’t many jobs where you can be outdoors 90 per cent of your time and see different places,” he says. “I’ve gotten to experience some absolutely beautiful places in B.C. that most people wouldn’t even consider going to because they are that remote, or just areas that aren’t on the general horizon of the public. I work with a helicopter quite a bit, and that’s awesome. You can’t beat that.”
Next start date: Fall 2021
Length: two year
Available at the Prince George Campus
Fees: Estimated at $11,691
Learn More about Natural Resources and Forest Technology
Read more about the program, admission requirements, and learn how to apply.