Students in Selkirk College’s Forest Technology Program had the opportunity to explore a new ecosystem and discover Indigenous connections on a recent fieldtrip to Merritt.
As part of the Applied Ecology and Range Management course, second-year students headed west at the end of September to spend a day of study with students, instructors and elders from the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT).
Students in Selkirk College’s Forest Technology Program had the opportunity to explore the grassland ecosystem in the Merritt area as part of a partnership with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. (Dave Stevens photo)
“Grassland ecosystems do not occur in our immediate area, so we have to travel to experience true grasslands,” says veteran Forest Technology Program instructor Carol Andrews, who led the trip to Merritt. “Ranching in our region is not common, but our students will work and live all over the province where they will need to understand rangeland management and how it can overlap and with forest management.”
An Important Partnership for Learners
Selkirk College and NVIT signed a memorandum of understanding designed to enhance the educational experience for learners at both schools through collaborative efforts. Now in the second year of the partnership, the relationship helps provide important perspective to those getting set to embark on a career in the forest industry.
“The students we meet with at NVIT are all in their forestry program,” says Andrews. “Our students get a chance to spend time with these students and share their experiences as forestry students and future land managers. Indigenous instructors from NVIT help to explain the focus of their program. Elders accompany us and help students understand the Indigenous connections to land—traditional use, traditional customs, cultural and historical perspectives. This day helps the students begin to understand what reconciliation may mean on a personal and professional level.”
The Forest Technology Program is one of the original Selkirk College programs and has been an important part of regional post-secondary since 1966. NVIT first opened in 1983 as a private institute by several First Nations bands in the Merritt region and in 1995 became a public post-secondary.