Women In Forestry: Christina Lavoie

Christina Lavoie

Saanich Forestry Centre, Nursery Supervisor, Western Forest Products Inc.


In your role, what are your responsibilities? What does your typical day look like? 

My responsibilities include the day-to-day operation of the nursery, while having a safety-focus, include conducting site safety orientations, training, ordering safety supplies, stock coordination for the company (purchasing, trading, selling stock as requested by foresters or via managing the surplus we have), coordinating stock trials, growing an average of 3.6 million seedlings per year for our operations, assessing upgrades needed for the facility, creating and managing the budget, as well as hiring for the nursery. I also plan for the next season, including organizing the sowing requests from our operations, allocating the seedlings that are needed to grow to both WFP’s nursery and external growing partners, visiting our operations to assess any survival issues, and visiting our external nurseries to view our stock growing over there. I’m sure there are more things, but this is a not so short summary!

My typical day starts at 6:15 am when I head out and start my commute to the nursery.  Depending on the season we’re in, I meet the crew at 7:30 am to conduct a tail-gate meeting to communicate the necessary messages for the day. We’re currently finishing our harvest (lift) and about to start our sowing for the new seedling crop. I’ll monitor the crew in their daily jobs with the support of my Nursery Technician and Crew Lead to ensure quality is being met and address any issues. During this pre-planting time of year, I have a lot of stock moving around – whether it’s sales or shipping, so coordinating all the moving parts that include sales or requests for stock. I’m also ironing out next year’s sow-plan, which is the greenhouse layout of all the crops we have growing here. There are many logistics to think about when planning greenhouse space. This year we’re experiencing lots of last-minute changes in our sowing plans due to the operational challenges being faced by the various Timberlands Operations.  As a result, this means quickly changing our sow plans to grow the right number of trees that are required for our planting programs. In preparation for sowing, we obtain the necessary seed from the Provincial Seed Centre; this requires it to be brought to our site where we must handle it carefully, take care of it and track the seed inventory. I also answer emails and off-the-cuff questions as they come up from our Silviculture. Manager, accountants, foresters, and other stock coordinators. This is my busiest time of year by far, so my to-do list feels untouched at the end of the day, but the day is so busy – it doesn’t make sense!


How did you get your start in forestry? 

I met my planting foreman and her husband while I was camping with my best friend – she gave me her email and told me to give her a shout if I wanted to make money tree planting. I was living in Saskatchewan at the time, and I decided to email her during midterms at university! School stress helped switch my career path. I started planting in 2007 in Prince George with Spectrum Resource Group. From there, I helped supervise planting, where a major part of my job was managing the stock inventory, quality and pay. I also supervised the layout for both ground and aerial herbicide programs, monitored and mixed in the same programs and supervised application in the fall. The winter was a mix of fire mitigation and snowboarding – a great way to spend the off season! I also met my husband planting and once our kids were old enough, I went back to work. I took a position at Canfor at their JD Little Nursery as the Operation Supervisor. I spent three years there when Western Forest Products pursued me, convincing me to make the big move to Vancouver Island.  I’ve been with WFP for three years now!


Are there any accomplishments that you are really proud of? 

I am really proud of being in the position I’m in and achieving all I have achieved by working my way up and proving my worth in the field – as all my skill and experience is driven by firsthand industry experience. Currently, I am working on a Horticulture Diploma via the University of Guelph with the objective to gain more of the scientific understanding of growing seedlings and to further my career. I’m also the president of the Forest Nursery Association of BC (FNABC) – which was an honour when I was nominated, and it has been a great experience. Working alongside my peers who have so much knowledge and experience is incredibly invaluable.


What advice would you have for other women who might be considering a career in forestry?

Go for it! Pursue the positions you believe you deserve. Put in the hard work. Advocate for yourself. Know your worth, and don’t be afraid to move on to different opportunities if you don’t feel you’re receiving what you need at your current position. We are capable of so much, don’t underestimate yourself.