From left to right: Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary; Susan Yurkovich, President & CEO; Cameron Nikkel, South Hazelton; Mason Kenzle, Houston; Jayan Nickolet, Mackenzie; Marie-Ève Lavoie, Prince George; Grady Kragt, Hixon; Zachary Whitecotton, Vanderhoof; Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development; Jim Costley, Forest Education Manager

Former NVSS students receives COFI scholarship

Zachary Whitecotton speaks about diversifying the forest industry

Forestry is important to the region and a CNC student originally from Vanderhoof has recently won a scholarship from the Council of Forest Industries (COFI).

Zachary Whitecotton graduated from Nechako Valley Secondary School in June last year was told about the COFI scholarship by the counsellor at the school while he was applying for other bursaries and scholarships.

He was one of 13 students selected out of all the applicants in the province for the scholarship.

“Forestry just seems to fit my lifestyle,” says Whitecotton who is now pursuing a degree in Natural Resources and Forest Technology at the College of New Caledonia, Prince George campus.

Camping, riding ATVs in B.C.’s beautiful back-roads and exploring bushes in Northern B.C. is something Whitecotton said he enjoyed a lot.

“Once I found out that there is a job that I could do many of those things and get paid for it, I knew that a career in forestry was the career for me,” he said.

The forest industry in B.C. has taken a hit in the past year, but Whitecotton believes that every industry has economic downturns.

“If we hold out as long as we can and do the jobs that still need to be done like silviculture, management etc. we should be able to outlast this economical hit and rebuild the industry to what we had before,” he said.

He believes that forestry as a whole will have to be diverse.

On one end, planting varying species of trees and on the other end, having sawmills diversify products will help the economy survive economic downturn, he explained.

As for the future, Whitecotton wants to remain in the field of Silviculture for some time.

“After I receive my forest tech as well I would like to experience different aspects that the forest industry has to offer. It is a possibility that I will return to school to get my professional forester degree after a few years of work,” he said.

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