Forestry Education

Nature Connects & Forestry Day

Virginia DeCarle

Virginia deCarle has sixteen years experience working in the forest. Her knowledge and experience working in this field have inspired her to follow her passion in educating people of all ages on the importance of learning about our natural world, and how we are all dependent and responsible for how we contribute to utilizing and caring for the lands and water we benefit from.

Virginia graduated from the Forest Technician Program at Algonquin College Pembroke in 2009. She then started her career in forestry work with Ontario Parks in Algonquin Park and also worked as a certified Tree Marker on Crown and Private land for fourteen years. While employed with Ontario Parks, she had the opportunity to take part in Young of the Year Brook Trout surveys and Free to Grow surveys. The requirements for brook trout surveys were to collect data on eight lakes through netting, measuring water depths, recording water temperatures and mapping out new creeks and streams to determine potential brook trout habitat. Free to Grow surveys are assessments of planted trees, carried out by tallying and recording tree species, diameters, stocking, competition and desirable regeneration present in each plot.

Education is important to Virginia.

She is co-founder of Bancroft Forestry Day, which was founded in 2011. This was a result of her passion to educate and share important facts and knowledge about sustainable forest management. Virginia decided she wanted to expand her horizons in educating and creating awareness among young people and the general public, so she developed a program called “Nature Connects and Forest Education” in 2011. Over the past thirteen years she has presented her program to well over 2000 people, through community events, school visits, public speaking events, summer camps, guided forest walks and landowner consultations. She has also received awards for her outstanding contributions to forest education in Ontario from Forests Ontario.

Virginia has contributed fourteen years of volunteer service based on her passion for creating awareness around the importance of connecting to nature, sustainable forest management, land stewardship, wildlife, silviculture, community connection and care. She is past President of five years with Bancroft Area Forest Industry Association (BAFIA) and currently volunteers for three environmentally based, not for profit organizations in Bancroft, ON:  Stewards of Bancroft Eagles Nest Park (SBNP), Bancroft Area Stewardship Council (BASC) and BAFIA Additionally, Virginia has volunteered for multiple local charity programs in her community for the past fourteen years.

Nature Connects

With today’s influx of modern technology some of our children have been and are being deprived of connecting with their natural world. Some may never have been taught to simply listen to nature when it’s all around them. With her personal passion for nature and with a concern for the overall health of our children, she presents her Nature Connects Program to give the opportunity to experience nature while gaining knowledge about the environment that is crucial for the development of intellectual, physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing along with education on forest management and how important it is to manage our renewable resources through good stewardship in order to benefit from them in the future. 

This program gives young people the opportunity to look at forestry as a possible career choice after high school. There are a variety of jobs within the forest industry that are not necessarily known to many people. It can be a great choice for individuals who are interested in hands on work. 

To familiarize students with the field exercise she begins with an in-class PowerPoint presentation that will include a series of photos that identify tree species, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles indigenous to this area along with speaking about the environment, invasive species, some medicinal properties trees have and tree diseases. Virginia also provides students with information about her job as a Forest Technician and Tree Marker and Forest Educator. 

In the second portion of the program, participants will take a walk in a forested area to look, listen and relate to what was seen on the PowerPoint Presentation. The group will discuss the importance of managing our forests and caring for our environment so they will continue to provide for us and their inhabitants.

Virginia provides educational and informative resources for students to take home following the program. 

Forestry Day

Forestry day has impacted many students who have developed an interest in Ontario Forests and forest management and has introduced them to the various opportunities that exist for students to learn more about forestry in the comprehensive Outdoor Study programs offered at North Hastings High school. 

If you’re a private land owner, a teacher or a camp director/coordinator and you’re interested in the Nature Connects and Forestry Education program, please contact Virginia deCarle. 

About Forestry Day

In 2012 Virginia deCarle and Ernie Demuth founded “Forestry Day” and it has since become one of BAFIA’s flagship programs. It is a free bi-annual event designed for middle school children (grades 7 & 8) in the area. The main objective of the forestry day is to give students a clear picture of how forest management and sustainable harvest methods are performed in Ontario, particularly Hastings County. This is accomplished through hands-on activities that provide students opportunities to appreciate the science and diversity of forest ecosystems and wildlife and the efforts by the forest industry to extract resources while protecting and sustaining these systems.  There are also examples of local forest products and woodworkers to connect students to their use of forest products in everyday life.   

BAFIA has successfully carried out four Forestry Days to date: Three at Joy Bible Camp in Bancroft and one at O’Hara Mill in Madoc. Each year roughly 160 students attended the Bancroft Forestry Day and 260 students in Madoc. 

The group that planned and implemented this event were Virginia deCarle, Ernie Demuth, Colleen Drew-Baehre, Jennifer Card, Barry McGibbon, Lou Freymond, Gord Brown, Paul Devitt and Lacey Rose. North Hastings High School’s Northern Environmental Resource Development Studies class (aka NERDS) assisted by leading student groups throughout the day.