The Forestry Harvesting Operations Level 3 course is a mix of practical and classroom theory.
“I decided to do the course because it was something brand new and out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I liked the idea of being outdoors surrounded by nature, high up in the hills with beautiful views of our mountain, sea and forests and I also wanted to push myself and test my limits especially with the tools”.
For someone who didn’t want a regular 9-5 job, this was perfect for Zarena.
She said the course was really practical and covered basics like how to maintain a chainsaw. From taking it apart, cleaning it, sharpening the chain to taking the drags down and checking if it was safe to use.
Other chainsaw methods were also taught in the 20-week course from cutting logs, how to avoid the chainsaw jamming and reading a log to anticipate its movements.
Health and safety in the forestry industry is critical and covered in the course, and Zarena said mostly it’s all just ‘common sense.’
“We also get a general overview of the forestry cycle from planting to harvesting (start to finish) and how most operations function,” she said.
The hands-on side of the course is what she enjoyed the most, especially cutting up the logs.
“The bigger the better. You don’t get your saw jammed or cut crooked, you feel extremely satisfied,” she admits.
Along with the practical experience, it’s important to ‘impress’ workers and forestry employers and companies who allow WITT students to do work experience and learn on site.
“Also, it’s the laughs. Everyone seems to joke around to lighten up the day. Everywhere we go the crews seem to have a good sense of humour, it seems like a culture thing within the industry.”
In the future, Zarena said she sees herself working for a forestry management company once she completes her studies, or running a similar training programme for women or high school students wanting to get into the industry.
Her message for those wanting to learn about the industry is simple.
“If you love being outdoors, like heavy machinery or working with dangerous tools, give forestry a go. You’ll get fit fast, especially with all the physically demanding work.”
Prior knowledge or qualifications isn’t required, she said.