Reidville’s Gerard Butler was graduate of original forest resources class 50 years ago


Published on June 14, 2017

Gerard Butler is one of the original students in the local forest technician program. He is seen here at his home in Reidville.

©Roxanne Ryland photo

It may not have turned out to be his lifelong career, but Gerard Butler enjoyed his brief time working in the forest resources technician field.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the program, one of the oldest post-secondary courses in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The program and its long history will be celebrated Thursday evening at the College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook, where it is currently offered.

Butler was in the first class to graduate in the late 1960s. He had actually been studying engineering at Memorial University in St. John’s when an academic advisor recognized Butler’s love of the outdoors and suggested he should pursue the technician program.

After graduating, Butler practiced his new trade for a few years before turning his sights on surveying, a job that he still works at today.

“Most of the boys who did it stayed with it,” he said. “I know most of them really loved it. I enjoyed the program and being outside, as well, but I just wasn’t a good fit (working) for government.”

These days, graduates of the program are likely to find work concentrating on specific tasks such as wildlife enforcement, monitoring the environmental impacts of various development projects or protecting timber resources.

In his short time in the field as a district ranger in Labrador, Butler did all of those things, including fighting forest fires.

“I was just the little guy on the pole back then, just learning about it all,” he said.

Tonight’s celebration of the program is calling on all of its past graduates to attend. It runs from 7-9 p.m.

About the forest resources technician program

The forest resources technician program was established in 1967 and was initially delivered through the College of Trades and Technology in St. John’s. In 1985, the program moved to the District Vocational School in Corner Brook, and today is delivered by College of the North Atlantic.

As one of the longest-running education curriculums in the province, the program has provided graduates with a strong foundation in the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the field of natural resources.

For 50 years, the program has strived to deliver innovative training that reaches beyond the classroom with a strong emphasis on real-life experiences. It is this innovative approach that has allowed the program to succeed and produce graduates who are in high demand right across the country.

Source: Canadian institute of Forestry – NL Section

Employment opportunities

Graduates of this nationally accredited program may obtain employment throughout Canada in a variety of forestry related fields: protection and enforcement, forest inventory and site classification, logging and engineering, forest access road construction and maintenance, silviculture as well as parks, wildlife and environmental assessment. This program has an established reputation for supplying graduates to employers all across Canada.

Source: College of the North Atlantic