55 years of community and conservation

Dianne Loewen, Forestlands and Public Affairs, Dryden Mill

In the mid 1950s, a forward-looking group in Dryden recognized a need to provide youngsters with background and education in the areas of resource management and conservation.

That’s how members of our mill’s leadership team and Woodlands department got together with the local Board of Education, Dryden High School and the Department of Natural Resources to combine their knowledge and resources to host the first Dryden High School Conservation Course in 1957.

Forestry and fun

The Conservation Course has been an annual event ever since. Students at Dryden High School, as well as guests from other high schools, get to spend three intensive days in the field with experts learning key aspects of resource conservation and management.

The stated objective of this unique initiative is “To broaden understanding of resource management and encourage appreciation of conservation concepts while enjoying three days in an outdoor setting”. The moderators favor a hands-on approach to make the learning interactive and fun.

Key elements of conservation focused on during the three days include water, soil, wildlife and forests. Some of the resource use activities covered are water resources, aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, wildlife and forestry. Harvesting and renewal, inventory, soils, fire management and protection, and a land use management planning exercise are part of the material presented in the forestry component of the course.

Industry experts from organizations including the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources; Science North; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Forestry Association, as well as members of the academic community and numerous independent volunteers, associations and businesses have willingly contributed their time, resources and talents to this program over the years.

A local institution

Many of the students who have participated in the Dryden High School Conservation Course have gone on to pursue higher education and careers in the field of resource management. Course alumni include professional foresters, biologists, ecologists, geologists, agronomists, and many others who now work in related fields.

The Conservation Course has evolved over the years to accommodate changes in the secondary school curriculum and has been renamed the Keewatin Patricia District School Board Conservation Camp. In addition, now it not only incorporates students from secondary schools throughout the region but also welcomes visiting students from southern Ontario.