At the West Boundary Community Forest (WBCF), we work together to ensure the decisions we make in our forest have the best interest of the community in mind. We view our community forest as a shared space, inviting diverse points of view for every decision. To us, people play a key role in the prosperity of the community forest and help build healthy communities.
This feature is our opportunity to amplify the voices of friends of the West Boundary Community Forest, who help us ensure every project follows community values, goals, and objectives. Today we introduce Elly Macmaster, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the WBCF and its Wilgress Lake Outdoor Education Centre (OEC).
Elly’s involvement with the WBCF over the past four years has been essential to building awareness and connecting regularly with the community through our social media and website to help educate the public about the WBCF’s projects and initiatives, as well as promoting annual grant and bursary opportunities in support of students and non-profit organizations in West Boundary.
“Along with forest management, a big part of what we do is giving back to the communities in the form of shareholder dividends, grants, and bursaries, so it’s important for us to make sure we’re sharing information about the work that has been done and where funds are going,” notes Elly.
Elly was pleased to support the WBCF board’s rebranding project, including a refreshed logo, website, and social media to better connect and communicate with the public about the important work of the community forest.
In addition to collaborating with the media, Elly joins the WBCF Forest Managers at various community events such as the Rock Creek Fall Fair to promote, educate and build awareness of the WBCF and its OEC, located east of Greenwood.
“These events are not only excellent opportunities for reaching out to locals and community members, but they also allow us to share our projects with a broader audience. Most people don’t realize there is more to forestry than logging. A considerable amount of the work the WBCF does involves thinning trees to reduce the risk of wildfires, ultimately protecting communities, so it is always rewarding to help educate people on these topics,” she explains.
Without a doubt, Elly’s passion and commitment have helped broaden people’s knowledge of forestry and the benefits the WBCF brings to the community.
As part of her direct involvement with the OEC, Elly also ensures the facilities are in good working condition, sources educational supplies, coordinates visits from schools, helps organize professional development days for teachers and school administrators, and liaises with community groups and media.
The OEC offers a variety of activities geared to students from elementary to high school. Students from across SD51 have attended, with many teachers bringing their students back annually. From science to outdoor and physical education, career-planning, and even a performance by a high school band class, the opportunities for students to learn in nature are endless.
For Elly, one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of her job is being able to connect with kids from elementary through high school.
“Watching kids learning and enjoying themselves, knowing they will go home and share what they learned about the importance of forestry with their families, is truly a great feeling," she explained. "Considering the importance of good forest management to our surrounding communities, introducing older kids to post-secondary education and professional careers in forestry is very meaningful for me."
Elly looks forward to the new outdoor learning shelter at the OEC, which will be inaugurated by early October. This open-air, pavilion-style facility will provide a covered instruction area for teachers and students while retaining the experience of learning outdoors in nature.
“The area will be a fantastic space for structured learning activities after the students return from playing and exploring while also providing shade and protection during rainy days,” noted Elly.
Certainly, Elly’s enthusiasm and dedication are crucial in facilitating the WBCF’s mission, its commitment to sound land management practices, creating awareness about forestry, and its role in ensuring the protection and growth of healthy forests.