Bob Girt, Sealaska Timber’s Senior Environmental Compliance & Liaison Specialist was invited to talk with Klawock junior high school students. A field trip brought students and teachers to the forest, which provided the opportunity to learn about types of trees (and shrubs) common to Southeast Alaska, including Alaska yellow cedar, Western red cedar, Sitka spruce and Western hemlock.
During the botanical presentation, one of the teacher/chaperones asked: “How is this information important to these students – why should they know?” “At this point in their educational development, it is for fun and basic awareness,” said Girt. “But in my career, I had to learn and know the difference between species to be able to assess the value of timber stands when they are of commercial size. Some species tend to be more valuable than others. Knowing the difference between a red and yellow cedar, for example, is critical in evaluating a forest species mix.” The ability to tie education into how it could lead not only to careers in their local community, but also our traditional knowledge of cultural use of these species furthers Sealaska Natural Resources goal to provide financial, cultural and community benefit from our land.
Sealaska board and management’s commitment to balance land management in perpetuity opens the door to a broad range of career paths to support the natural resource industry. “Sealaska believes a local workforce is necessary, even critical, for a sustainable natural resource industry into the future,” said Girt.
Over the last 30 years, much of Bob’s career with Sealaska kept him in the woods, all in Southeast Alaska, and the vast majority being on POW and surrounding islands. Since January of 2016 in his new role, he now focuses on permitting compliance. But more importantly under the (community) liaison aspect of his role, he brings awareness to and sparks interest in forestry and related career opportunities. “The experience of working in Southeast Alaska is rewarding and carries with it life-long career opportunity,” says Girt. “We care equally about the economy, the environment, the vitality of wildlife and fishery, and our ongoing contribution to social and cultural advancement. We want you to join us in this important work.”
View images from the field trip.