Every forestry family has to start somewhere. While we know a lot of forestry families in our province that are generations old, every legacy has to start somewhere. The beginning of this legacy is known as Kyle Ogilvie.
I won’t lie and say it was a beautiful drive today as it was a typical Nova Scotia November day. Cold slush falling from the sky in the morning and just straight cold rain in the afternoon.
I have a longer walk back through the cut to the harvester than I normally do during these interviews and I have to say I am quite happy about it. As I walk back I get to see the wonderful job that Skyline and Valliside are doing in this block.
When I reach Kyle he is all smiles. I want to say it is because of me but I know the large coffee in my hand may have something to do with it. I hand the coffee to him and we get to it!
How did you get into forestry?
“In an indirect way, it was through Steve Saunders.” Kyle says. Steve Saunders is the owner of Valliside and Kyle has been working with him for four and a half years. “He was working on a block just up the road from my house when I was 18. I ran the buncher for free just to get seat time and to gain experience. When he left that block I started working with a fella in New Ross running a feller buncher for 11 or 12 years.”
Unlike most of these interviews, I had no idea what his family did. So, I ask.
“My old man had a dump truck and back hoes.” He responds. “We grew up on a farm.”
As someone who doesn’t come from a forestry background I ask how forestry has impacted his family.
“It has been nothing but positive.” He says with a smile. “It is something that I started doing right out of high school and it has allowed me to buy a truck, a home, and to start and support my family.”
Forestry, especially operating, is not your average first job. It requires dedication as it has a huge learning curve. I ask Kyle what he felt he has gotten out of working that type of job at an early age.
“I learned quickly that to be in this sector you have to be mature, accountable, responsible and know how to persevere.” He responds matter-of-factly. “It really shapes you into who you are.”
I am visiting Kyle on a site today that is a trial being conducted by the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. They are trialing an Irregular Shelterwood treatment for the new Ecological Matrix leg of the Lahey Report. Looking at this site and knowing Kyle has been in the industry for 16 years, I ask how the types of treatments he does has changed over time.
“When I started out they were mainly clearcuts. There were a select few people doing thinnings back then. Clearcutting now is a thing of the past. Upwards of 80% of where I am working are thinnings.”
I ask how he has found the transition of this harvesting shift in our province.
“It really wasn’t that hard” he says. “I am pretty opened minded and my business isn’t just cutting wood. My job is to make the land owner happy. If the land owner is seeing what they want done and they are happy with it, then you’re doing a good job.”
As a follow up, I ask what his favorite treatment is.
“A Uniform Shelterwood actually. I like the satisfaction of doing a good job.”
Kyle has a wife, Deidre, and a son Myles. His eyes light up talking about how supported he has felt by his wife in his business. Because of her support of working long days and most weekends he has been able to purchase his own piece of equipment and start his own business, Skyline Forestry.
Kyle being a first generation woods worker, I ask if he would want Myles to follow in his footsteps.
“I would hope he would be at least interested.” His son is four now and can’t put in the long hours in a machine yet. “I just hope if he does that he sees the bigger picture. I want him to be looking at every tree, seeing things at the stand level and for more than just timber. I wouldn’t want him out here thinking it’s just pushing buttons.”
I can honestly say that anyone that would be trained under Kyle would not think that the job was “just pushing buttons.” He is an extremely caring operator that thinks about the stand as a whole, not just by the tree that is right in front of him.
It has been such an enriching visit with Kyle. Seeing someone who is so genuinely proud of the work they do while being so humble is hard to come by. Although he doesn’t take enough credit for himself, he does give credit where credit is due. He is so thankful, not only for his wife and son but also to Steven, Janet, and Corey. A little piece of advice I took from this visit was something Kyle repeated multiple times; In order to do good in life, you need to surround yourself with good people.
We could all use to take a note from Kyle!