UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 8 | Aug.
Reaching out to Aboriginal High School Students
Forestry camp is a first for UBC
By Brian Lin
Aboriginal high school students from across B.C. are at UBC
this week for the first-ever aboriginal youth forestry camp.
Aimed at demystifying the role of natural resource managers
and professional foresters, the Summer Forestry Camp for First
Nations Youth, taking place August 4-10, brings 25 First Nations
youth in Grades 8 and 9 to the Point Grey campus.
Participants will also spend three days at UBCs Malcolm
Knapp Research Forest in Maple Ridge to learn about the practical
application of math and science in forestry and natural resource
This summer camp is an innovative way for us to reach
out to aboriginal high school students who are considering
post-secondary education, says Gordon Prest, First Nations
co-ordinator at the Faculty of Forestry. There has been
a serious shortage of First Nations people in our faculty.
Prior to 1994, only three aboriginal students are known to
have graduated from the faculty. Since then, 20 aboriginal
students have received Forestry degrees. There are currently
18 undergraduate and two PhD students of aboriginal ancestry
in the faculty.
Prest says part of the problem is that few aboriginal students
are graduating from high school with the necessary academic
pre-requisites to enter science-related programs.
Traditionally school counsellors tend to steer First
Nations students towards arts and teaching, says Prest.
In recent years, more students are venturing into social
work and law, but there is still a shortage of First Nations
students in sciences.
Prest says forestry presents many new opportunities for First
Nations people, despite the common misconception that it is
a sunset industry.
We are tackling these problems at the root by offering
a fun way for students to learn both about forestry and the
importance of math and science to it.
The faculty will monitor participants progress through
high school and will work closely with student recruitment
to offer any additional support needed through the admission
process. It will also address issues such as bursary and future
There is strong demand for forestry professionals with an
aboriginal background, says Trish Osterberg, project co-ordinator
for the summer camp and a recent graduate of the faculty.
There is a trend to combine traditional aboriginal
forestry practices and modern technology, says Osterberg,
a member of the Sto:lo Nation. Aboriginal forestry graduates
have their work cut out for them in areas such as forestry
policy changes and treaty negotiations.