Kim Lefebvre, RPF
HAS EXPERTISE IN: site plans, post-harvest silviculture liability management, forest engineering (cutblock and road layout), timber appraisals, and permitting.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE A CAREER IN FORESTRY?
As a girl growing up in North Vancouver, a career in forestry was not exactly on my radar. I honestly didn't even know it was an option. Still, my parents instilled a love of the outdoors in me, and when it came time to think about my career options, my affinity for nature was a big influence.
From what I had gathered from the authority figures in my life, in order to get anywhere in the working world, I would have to get a post-secondary education. Being in Vancouver already, the University of British Columbia (UBC) was the likely choice, so I picked up a program guide and started checking out my options. By the time I got to the forestry program, I was thinking that everything else seemed either boring or wouldn't generate a decent income. Where was the excitement? The art? The passion? How could I capture those feelings and still make a good living? When I read about the forestry programs, I felt something click. Maybe I could earn a living doing something that kept me outside and healthy, while managing a resource I cared deeply about. So after a bit of research into the job prospects, I chose the Forest Resources Management program and never looked back.
TELL US ABOUT A TYPICAL DAY OR WEEK?
At the beginning of my career, I was spending the majority of my time outdoors, far from civilization, experiencing the wild areas of BC first-hand. Working out of a small town in Northern BC for several years allowed me to gain the experience I needed to advance in my career and also to enjoy the great sense of community that BC's small rural towns have to offer. These days, I spend the majority of my time in the office writing reports, preparing professional rationales, planning and supervising other professionals. I still get out to the field frequently enough to get some fresh air and collect information for my reports. An interesting off-shoot of my current job is my participation as co-chair of my company's Occupational Health and Safety Committee. In this capacity, I apply my past field experience towards communicating ways to keep our field teams and new workers safe in the woods, which has proven to reduce injuries and contribute to the success of our company.
WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD OF THE WORK YOU DO?
I am proud of the work I do, because I know that I am making a difference in forest management that aligns with the values British Columbians hold for their natural resource. Our team of professionals are leaders in resource stewardship, and work with integrity to ensure that our clients (license holders) are also trusted by the public. I am proud to work with a team that is passionate and dedicated to safety, quality, professionalism and collaboration.
Where to start? I find both the field and office portions of my job very cool for many reasons.
In the field, I get to take helicopters, float planes, boats, 4x4 pickups, ATVs and Utility Task Vehicles (UTV) to my work sites. There is nothing like watching dolphins play in the wake of your crew boat while sipping an early-morning coffee and thinking about the coming hike. At our company, most of us use tablets to record information, take pictures, navigate and write on digital maps. The field work is strenuous in Coastal BC, but I'm proud to be one of those who are tough enough to thrive in it. Rather than approach the rugged slopes with trepidation, our teams support each other, watch out for each other's safety, and face the work head-on with a physical and mental determination that I have rarely seen elsewhere. We use hand-held radios, satellite phones and GPS messengers to stay in contact with civilization and each other. In my field of expertise, I look at ecology, soils and signs of wildlife among many other things, but the experiences that stay with me are those rare and beautiful moments, like the time that I looked up at a sound to see a doe and two fawns grazing just steps away from me, or watched a pack of wolves running along a river from my bird's-eye view in a helicopter. Every forester has these moments, which are part of the reason we keep coming back for more in this rugged and often unforgiving terrain.
Back at the office, I utilize our innovative and resourceful GIS team, who operate state-of-the-art technology, to generate maps and supporting information for my reports. Our company is a provincial leader in seeking out and applying technologies such as LiDAR and 3D imagery in the natural resource sector. This makes for an exciting dynamic at work, especially when we discover new ways to use technology to our advantage.
Another aspect of my job that contributes significantly to my job satisfaction is the variety. Being a diversified consultant offers an array of projects to work on, not only in traditional forestry, but in the energy sector (wind farms, hydroelectricity), community forests, recreation management, wildfire protection, First Nations relationship-building and so on. Our team is as diverse as our projects, with professional biologists, timber cruisers, engineers, forestry professionals and many others on staff to provide support to each other and offer their unique expertise on single or multi-phase projects.
If I had to choose the best job perk, I would say it comes down to the team that I get to work with every day. The supportive and engaging environment at our company has provided me the opportunity to challenge myself regularly and grow in my career, which is something that every job-seeker should strive for and value above all else.