Haa Aani, the economic development arm of Sealaska Corporation, and the Sustainable Southeast Partnership are working with the US Forest Service and the State of Alaska to provide free forestry training for Southeast Alaska residents. The Forestry Training Academy is March 20th through 31st on Prince of Wales Island.
Cathy Needham is with Kai Environmental Consulting Services, a firm contracted to coordinate the training. She says the objective is to develop a local workforce to inventory young growth timber on the Tongass National Forest.
“They will learn things about forest ecology, but also learn how to take different tree measurements, and understand how to inventory the amount of board feet that are in a particular young growth stand. Learn more about the ecology of it – what features are also associated with it.”
Needham says after successfully completing a proficiency test, students will have the skills necessary to quality as a forestry technician. She says five positions are guaranteed with the State of Alaska, but other employment opportunities are possible.
“The Forest Service is looking at picking up additional technicians. Last year we had opportunities where Sealaska was looking for trained people, so they approached the graduates of the first academy. Once people graduate, there’s a group of people who are working on making sure the additional people can get placement if we can find them positions that they’re interested in.”
She says graduates could apply for technician-based jobs anywhere, not just in Alaska.
Needham says to qualify for the program, you must be at least 18, have a legal driver’s license, and be physically fit. She says up to 12 students will be accepted to the academy.
“The technician-level-based jobs that they’d be trained to do would be outside most of the time, hiking through the woods, for up to 10 or 11 hours a day, taking data on the ground. So they have to have an interest in being able to do that type of work. They have to be willing to do that in sometimes inclement weather as well.”
Participants are responsible for their own transportation to Prince of Wales Island. Room and board are provided.
The application deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday. Information is available from Kai Environmental, 907-723-4436, email – email@example.com, or at Southeast Forest Service ranger district offices.