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Forestry programs at HELP International
The 'magic of trees' as seen by student interns

Forestry is the main focus of the international intern program at HELP's Center for Ecology Research and Training in Weyburn. Recently, over the summer months, 10 Canadian and international interns were able to research ways of improving the forestry sector.

   "We were able to learn about the magic of trees, and all the things that trees do," said Josh Campbell, from Notre Dame College in Wilcox. "On a farm you learn to do many different things, from fixing vehicles to insulating houses, but the forestry piece was pretty big."

    "HELP International is an amazing place to be. It is hard work, but you learn a lot," said Paul Wartman, an university student from Guelph, Ont. "It is a very different learning environment because you absorb things on a more subconscious level."
    Student researchers from different areas of Canada were able to come together with international researchers during their time at HELP. "It is great to hear about what is going on in their countries, as what they are doing might be similar or new and interesting," said Campbell.
    Living together at HELP International is "a whole different culture and you see how people do everyday things," said Catherine Chania, a registered nurse from Kenya.
   During their time at the HELP facility, the interns sleep, eat, and work together. The interns prepare and plant 70,000 trees in nursery at HELP International. "It has been quite a process, learning how to plant things in large amounts, and finding an efficient way of planting," said Wartman. "We then plant those trees, either in a buffer-zone between cultivated areas and streams, or to create wind-breaks and privacy walls."
    Thousands of trees are planted into a floating nursery, while around the grounds naturally sprouted seedlings have been used in different research projects.
    It was "a surprise to learn that there is the same arid climate in Saskatchewan, as there is in Africa," said Victor Mariga, an agrisector worker from Kenya "It is the matter of how it is handled that makes the difference." "People in Africa do believe that in arid lands that you can't cultivate and you can't do a lot of things, but I have seen that people here do a lot."
    As a forestry engineer, David LaSala has been working for years "in the conservatory and forestry environment" of Spain. "Where I work, we manage our woodlands, making policies about what we have to do and when they have to do things." LaSala wanted to learn more about the forestry section and embraced a new way of looking at low-cost planting techniques while at HELP International. "The philosophy of low-cost is very interesting, and we don't apply it as much as we should."

    "The thing that I found was similar was the desire for sustainability in all of our countries. I think there is a real interest in making our world a place where people can live in for many generations," said Campbell. "That is definitely something that we all share at HELP." "There are different ways of going about that and different struggles. Especially when you take a country like Kenya and compare it to stronger countries like Canada, Spain or France."
    The program at HELP International definitely helps the interns to make informed decisions about their future careers, as noted by Amélie BoisRobert, an agricultural university student from France. Here as part of her work placement, BoisRobert "didn't know which job exactly I wanted to do. Coming here gave me different experiences and was very useful for me."
    "I had many questions about the protection of nature, saving the animals, and assisting neighbours," said BoisRobert about her time at HELP International. "There was a lot of discovery."
    The interns completed their forestry research on Sept. 3, with many of the students return to fall courses. Two of the interns, Victor and Catherine, will stay for the next six months to research zero-waste programs, agroforestry, and low-cost housing.

 © HELP International 2014