Q&A with Brianna Henderson
Stillwater Program Graduate
At Stillwater Consulting, our programs are carefully designed to provide students with a ton of practical skills and valuable certifications in a short period of time. We talk to local employers to find out what they’re looking for in new hires and build our curriculum around those needs to give our graduates the best chance of finding employment once their program ends.
But don’t just take our word for it! Read on to learn how Basic Silviculture & Wildland Firefighting program graduate, Brianna Henderson, went on to become a Forestry Technician after completing our training and hear what she felt were the key components that set her up for success.
What were the steps that lead you to apply for this program? What were you hoping to get out of it?
Brianna: I had just completed the horticulture program at Thompson Rivers University and I was working at a garden centre. Initially I joined the program because I thought it would be so cool to be a firefighter and do something good by filling that need in the industry.
Was securing your current job a result of taking Stillwater’s training?
Brianna: After the program I ended up getting a job with Atlas Information Management as a Junior Forestry Technician which has been fantastic. Getting this job was 100% a result of the Stillwater training. As a Junior Forestry Tech I assist the Senior Forestry Tech with mapping out an area, setting up cut blocks, and collecting information that the mappers can use later to build a plan for the loggers or a contractor to work off of.
Have the certifications you gained from the program been useful? Which ones in particular?
Brianna: The certificates and training I received through the program have really helped. The ATV/UTV certificate in particular is useful because it shows that I’m capable of operating a machine like that. It’s a big risk for an employer to hire someone who may not be able to use their equipment safely.
The S100 fire courses are helpful too because you can’t work out in the bush in the summer without them. The map and compass training is also really important for walking around in the woods. You need to know how to be out there and navigate by reading a map.
Pretty much the entire course was super useful! There really hasn’t been anything from the course that I haven’t used in my job. The experience also just made me so much more confident in going to apply for entry level forestry positions afterwards.
How did you find the quality of Stillwater’s instructors?
Brianna: They were fantastic. They made it fun and engaging. You can tell they’re really passionate about their career choice and that they want to share their knowledge with the students. Even after the program, if I ever had any problems or questions I could just email and they were pretty quick to respond or would give the appropriate people to contact if I needed to get something done.
What stands out to you as the most valuable learning from the program?
Brianna: The firefighting courses are very useful but I think it was mostly all the field work we were doing — actually going out and seeing real life examples. Having the instructors out there in the forest showing us “Hey, this is how it really is” and explaining something that was right in front of us was very immersive. That was super beneficial and something you wouldn’t get out of a regular classroom setting.
Do you feel that the practical nature of Stillwater’s training set you up for success in the real world of forestry? Can you provide an example?
Brianna: Tree identification is an important aspect of my job. I remember learning about how to identify Douglas Firs… there was a cute story about the cones involving an old legend about a mouse running away from a raven. The mouse hid its family in the cones which is why you can see little mouse butts in the Douglas fir cones now. I found that story really adorable and memorable so now I tell it to anyone when I see a Douglas fir and point out the little mouse butts to them!
What advice would you give to students thinking about taking one of Stillwater’s programs?
Brianna: Taking the program definitely changed my life and propelled me into my career. It really, really helped. If you are considering getting a job in forestry or if you do have a passion for the outdoors, I highly recommend the program. It is by far the most beneficial educational training I’ve ever received - and you can do it in such a short period of time.
Anything else to add?
Brianna: Overall I’m just really thankful that this program exists. It opens up a world of opportunities for young adults, or really anyone who wants to take the program. In forestry it often seems like you have to know someone or have grown up in the industry to get into it. For example, a lot of people I work with come from a family of loggers so it’s all been explained to them and makes sense already. Whereas for a city person or someone who hasn’t spent a lot of time in the woods, there’s a lot to know; it’s an entire industry and culture of its own. I found that Stillwater’s program really set me up to have a good base understanding of forestry which has been extremely beneficial to me.
Are you ready to take the leap into your forestry career? Stillwater program graduates like Brianna have gone on to be successful in many different areas of forestry - from resource management and environmental monitoring, to equipment operation and recreational trail building. Click on the button below to find a list of current Stillwater programs being offered across British Columbia.