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Learning about nature beyond the classroom

Learning about nature beyond the classroom

By Minal Abhange

For some, the idea of getting paid to spend time outdoors may seem like a daydream and completely impractical. However, for Taro Foley, CNA’s Forest Resources Technician (FRT) program opened doors to a dream career.

“Working as a Forest Resources Technician has a lot of perks and choices. Your duties range from helping extinguish forest fires, monitoring campers and planting trees and shrubs, to refurbishing trails, checking plants for diseases, marking trees for logging, and documenting wildlife habits,” says Taro, noting that some of the many perks of a career in this field are using skis and helicopters to patrol tops of mountains, tranquil shores of lakes and rivers, dense forests and wide-open spaces of the grasslands.

Born in Tokyo, Japan, Taro moved to Newfoundland and Labrador and immediately fell in love with the province’s natural beauty.

“I lived in a big city and every summer, when I came to Newfoundland, it was like a get away from the city life and it made a big impact on my life. I understood the importance of nature, which persuaded me to further my education and learn more about nature conservation.”

Taro’s studies focused on developing a set of technical skills, and understanding solutions to forest management problems and challenges. As well, there is a strong emphasis on safety and professionalism while monitoring the forest, ecosystems, and wildlife.

Taro Foley practicing catch and release with an Atlantic salmon on the Lower Humber River.

“It was a perfect fit,” Taro says. “The instructors have all been in the field, so we are not just getting taught theory but good orienteering and forest inventory skills from guys who actually did the work.”

Nature lover

Taro’s love of nature carries over into other aspects of his life. He is the successful entrepreneur of a nature-based business, which allows him to share nature’s edible treasures.

“I enjoy harvesting Newfoundland’s many wild edibles, which motivated me to start Foley’s Newfoundland Edibles, a nature-based business based out of St. John’s. Some of the many edibles range from plants (Nettles, Labrador Tea) to edible mushrooms (Chanterelles, Hedgehogs) and even medicinal mushrooms (Chaga, Birch Polypore). All edibles are hand harvested in a sustainable manner to protect our environment and to ensure edibles are available for future generations. Due to this fact we only have a limited supply of edibles. Items will vary with season, depending on local availability.”

Taro is also a proud proponent of catch and release – a practice in recreational fishing intended as a technique of conservation (after capture, the fish are unhooked, measured, weighed and returned to the water).

“I feel if we do not conserve our fishing resources, there will be none left for our future generations. With an effort to educate, promote the initiative I started the NL Catch and Release Facebook group, which is well received and we have over 500 group members.”

Canadian Institutes of Forestry (CIF) Recognition

As a new forestry professional, Taro was recognized with a silver ring as an initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Forestry (CIF) – a symbol associated with the completion of a CIF-recognized forestry program.

“It was a proud moment. Nature plays a big role in our existence, and now that I have the tools and skills to preserve it for future generations. I am really excited to pursue my dream career.”

After graduation, he says his life has become more focused on future goals, such as certification as an Arborist or continuing his studies at Memorial University.

“There’s a general consensus with industry professionals that CNA students are field and job ready. I can attest to that. I felt very confident with my education, experience and gained employment within a few weeks of graduation. If someone was thinking of taking a forestry program, that would be the first one I would recommend.”

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