Slocan native Janice Burns completed the Forest Resources Management program at University of British Columbia and was the recipient of two prestigious awards at her graduation this spring: the Canadian Institute of Forestry Gold Medal, which recognizes outstanding scholarship, sportsmanship and citizenship, and the Gordon Baskerville Award, recognizing outstanding achievement in academics and citizenship.
“I am honoured and humbled to be the recipient of [this award],” said Burns.
“I hold the gold medal with pride and with my colleagues in mind.”
In a wonderful mix of entrepreneurial drive and a strong sense of humanity, Burns represents a promising generation of forestry professionals who have the skills and desire to excel in their field, while respecting the needs of society as a whole.
Burns grew up in a forestry family. Her great-grandfather was awarded the first tree farm license in BC’s interior, TFL 3, in the mid-1800s; her father, Gary, holds WL 498 on the back doorstep of the Valhallas.
One of four children, she was encouraged to pursue any career that interested her, though it’s apparent she “absorbed a great deal [about forestry] by osmosis.” While the kids weren’t expected to follow in their father’s footsteps, their mother encouraged them to be “net contributors to society… with a compassionate heart.”
Burns’ current passion is fire surpression, specifically within the Wildfire Management Branch. After serving as an Aviation Assistant for the BC Forest Service Protection Branch she went through the grueling application process to become a wildland firefighter and joined the 20-person Valhalla Unit Crew.
Burns has dedicated considerable time and energy to researching fuel management plans, specifically in wildland-urban interface areas, as well as technologies such as LIDAR, which are aiding in fuel assessments and wildfire management.
For now, Burns will continue with the BC Forest Service, while also working alongside her father. She muses about the possibility of someday taking over the family’s woodlot operation.
No doubt, she will enjoy tremendous success, regardless of the path she takes in the future, thanks to her tenacious personality and obvious intellect.
“Give her a complex problem and she’ll wrestle it to the ground and won’t give up until she’s figured it out,” said one of her professors.
As we look to the future of our forests, both locally and globally, it’s heartening to see the exceptional talent of youth like Burns on the horizon.
British Columbia’s woodlot program has more than 875 woodlot licenses with membership is mostly made up of families united in an effort to demonstrate exemplary forest and natural resource management. To find out more about woodlots in BC go to woodlot.bc.ca.