Growing the Next Generation of Forest Industry Experts: Collaborative Education Efforts Come to Light
05 November 2023
In a groundbreaking workshop at the recent Forestry Australia and New Zealand Institute of Forestry (ANZIF) conference titled “Growing the Next Gen Together: Showcasing Forest Industry-School Partnerships & Tools”, forestry industry experts gathered to expand on the innovative efforts being made toward enhancing forest education in schools and workforce development in Australia.
The collaborative event highlighted significant strides by key organisations, including ForestLearning, Primary Industries Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA), Timber Queensland, Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub Workforce Development, and Responsible Wood in bridging the gap between industry and schools
The workshop showcased the role that teaching resources and school activities can play in educating students on the future of forests, carbon, and nature-based solutions for environmental challenges – including using wood as a renewable and sustainable material.
“It was great to mix of attendees, with more than 475 delegates at the conference.” said Beth Welden, ForestLearning’s Program Manager.
“Collaborating with expert foresters and partners elevates our mission to bring the forest to the classroom. and it was good to partner with so many organisations working with us to showcase this important and impactful work.”
Ms Welden also emphasised the pivotal role the ForestLearning program plays in providing robust, Australian Curriculum aligned teaching and learning resources developed by teachers for teachers.
“Everything is available at forestlearning.edu.au, whether it’s ready to use lesson plans, education multimedia videos, hands on tools such as the Tree Carbon Storage Tape Measure, forest information, terminology, or even to enquire about running an excursion to a forest or wood processing facility; we are here to help.”
Ms Welden spotlighted several ForestLearning initiatives including the ForestVR™ toolkit and the integration of cutting-edge technology into forestry education such as drones, ensuring resources are not only educational but also engaging.
As a teacher, Ms Welden understands just how vital teaching resources like ForestLearning are in building out syllabus activities.
“By providing educators with the tools and support to navigate these subjects effectively, we empower them to inspire and educate students about the pressing environmental challenges we face and the role of the forest industry as part of the solution,” Ms Welden said.
Luciano Mesiti, CEO of PIEFA, shared insights into the foundation’s programs that bring food and fibre knowledge to the forefront of education, reinforcing the vision of an Australian community that values its primary industries. PIEFA and ForestLearning’s joint presentation at the 2023 ANZIF Conference was acknowledged as a testament to their long-term partnership in promoting forest education to Australian teachers and schools.
The workshop also cast a spotlight on the new Timber Queensland’s Canopy Hub project as a state exemplar by Clarissa Brandt, Strategic Relations and Communications Manager at Timber Queensland. The session illustrated how the forest industry is confronting the challenges of formal training and recruitment by connecting industry, training programs, and career education through Canopy Hub initiatives like the Grow, Harvest & Process Industry Schools Tours.
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub and its Workforce Development Project was showcased by Josh Praolini, Workforce Development Manager, and detailed the project’s success in addressing public perception, fostering resilience, and providing comprehensive pathways into the forestry sector, enhancing industry desirability.
Jonathan Tibbits, from Responsible Wood, underscored the importance of presenting sustainable practices in wood production to educators nationwide, co-presenting with ForestLearning at various teacher conferences. Their joint efforts aim to illuminate the sustainability credentials of Australian wood products, ensuring the next generation is well-versed in responsible forestry practices.
The workshop concluded with a resounding call-to-action, urging collaborative efforts between industry and schools to maintain the momentum in forest education and industry partnership development.
For more information on these initiatives and partnerships, please visit the respective websites of the contributing organizations below:
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub