Forestry Aaron Paul, Lucas St. Onge fill sandbags to prepare for more flooding in the Central Okanagan Thursday, at Ellison Fire Hall. - Image Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Forestry students lend a shovel

High school forestry students helped the community prepare sandbags Thursday

Students of the Forestry Program based at Rutland Senior Secondary are getting a hands-on experience with helping the community.

Approximately 13 students, two instructors and one driver piled into a Central Okanagan school bus Thursday afternoon to prepare sandbags for the predicted floods.

One student lives in the Mission Creek area, and once out of class he expects to continue sandbagging at home.

“We only have about two and a half feet (of space with the water below) until the top of the creek bank, we usually have 10 to 15 feet,” said Grade 11 student Lucas St. Onge.

The students were sent all over Kelowna, with communication provided by the City of Kelowna to the forestry instructors.

Instructor Al Colkind said the program takes a snapshot of everything to do with forestry.

“(The students) were thinking it was a great idea to get out and do some community work… so after we phoned around and found out where we could go. I do really like the idea of the kids getting involved in community service.”

The students were sandbagging from 9 .a.m to 3 p.m. and came prepared with waterproof boots, chainsaw pants, high-visibility vests and hard hats.

Being young, Bergstrom said they had the advantage helping out older, and retired members of the community.

Instructor Dustin Herbison said some of the students have friends at George Elliot, which is currently under an evacuation alert, due to the rising creek behind the back of the school.

“We got to class this morning and then we were all sitting talking about what was happening today so a couple of us got together and talked to the teachers,” said Grade 12 student Grayson Bergstrom.

The class came prepared with shovels, starting on Adams Road.

“It was good seeing the people come in. The amount of work was done really quickly compared to the time it would take for (other members of the community) to do it.” said St. Onge.

He plans to continue with forestry as a career, wanting to avoid the office job.

“You learn something new every day,” he said.

“Thats what this program is about, not just going on learning hard skills but also participate in the community using teamwork and all that,” he said.

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