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Junior Forest Rangers celebrate 50 years

The Junior Forest Ranger Program is celebrating 50 years today. Communities across the province that host Junior Forest Ranger programs, including Grande Prairie, are celebrating the milestone.

Since 1965 more than 4000 young people have taken part in the program, which ESRD Education and Outreach Officer Blaine Burke says allows 16 to 18 year old to explore a number of careers in natural resource fields.

“Many of these students or young adults that go through this program end up working in natural resource careers and we probably have hundreds of folks within our own ministry that have been Junior Forest Rangers before, not to mention folks that work in the energy sector or the forestry sector as well.”

The JFR program is 70 per cent work and 30 per education focus according to Burke, who says it is great for anyone interested in a career in the natural resource sectors.

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“Not only do they get career exploration focus as far as things like ride-alongs and doing projects for government and industry, they also learn how to use specific tools, wildfire investigation, wildfire orientation, things that make them very attractive to outside employers.”

Along with the work and education components, the rangers also work on legacy projects for the betterment of the community.

“[That includes] the creation of a hiking trail out at Musreau Lake and Spring Lake and they’ve also done lots of trail maintenance and infrastructure maintenance at our Red Willow Camp for kids. Probably most importantly for the past four or five years they’ve done some Firesmart work in Muskoseepi Park, helping protect neighborhoods that live along the forest edge.”

A commemorative tree was planted at the Grande Prairie Museum in Muskoseepi Park this morning to mark the milestone. The museum will also be hosting forestry demos with JFR alumni on Tuesday. They will be demonstrating things like log cutting, fire safety, and knot tying. It’s all part of the museum’s annual Heritage Hunters Program.

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