Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tree Planter Training, Pre-Season Overview

I've been working on a series of tree planter training modules for the past three years, to replace the videos that I originally put online in 2005.  Those video had been getting thousands of views every year, but they were very low quality.  I finally feel that the content of the current series is at a sufficient quality level that I now feel comfortable sharing these with our entire industry.

The training consists of twenty modules altogether.  The first eight (which are the focus of this post) are meant to be watched a couple months before the season starts, by people who are potentially interested in applying for a job as a planter.  If you're looking for the last twelve videos, which focus more on the hands-on aspects of the job, go to this link.
These videos will help you understand what you're getting yourself into!  This is NOT an easy job.  The number of first-year planters who try the job for a few days or weeks and then quit is pretty high.  If you're not going to enjoy the work, it's better that you make that decision before you start planting, rather than after you've spent a few thousand dollars on buying equipment and traveling to your first work site.

The content in these videos is not targeted solely at inexperienced job applicants.  I'm 100% confident that all current experienced planters will find things in these videos that they didn't know.  You may wonder why I feel bold enough to make this claim?  Simple: because I learned hundreds of new things myself while putting all of this training material together.

I highly recommend that if you're thinking about planting, you watch these videos very carefully before you commit to accepting a position at a planting company.  These eight videos are just slightly under four hours in total length, so you'll need to set aside an entire afternoon or evening to watch them.  I'd suggest that you watch them with a pen and paper, so you can make notes about questions that you can ask recruiters or crew bosses at the companies that you apply to.  You should also bookmark this post, because you may want to come back and watch some of these videos more than once.

In 2018, I'll be publishing a full hard-copy version of this information, which will be available for purchase from Amazon.  For now, you'll have to make do with the videos or the text that I've posted online.  For more information about this entire training series, visit:

Here are the first eight videos in the training series.  I hope you find them to be useful.  I think I would have made about five thousand dollars more in my first season if I had known all of this information before I started planting.  Crew bosses take note ... you should share this information with everyone on your crews.

Introduction, History of Tree Planting
Contents:  A history of BC's Tree Planting Industry, the modern BC Tree Planting industry.

Why Do We Plant Trees?  What Makes A Good/Bad Planter?
Contents:  Overview of forest management in BC, administration of logging & reforestation, people who should go planting, people who should not go planting, some common myths about planters.

Long-Term Worker Health, & Nutrition
Contents:  Water/hydration, alcohol/drugs/tobacco, fitness & avoiding injuries, personal protective equipment, minimizing the risk of illness, mental health.

Working Safely from Day to Day, Understanding Hazards
Contents:  Assessing risk, personal protective equipment, vehicles, natural worksite hazards, weather, chemicals in the workplace, wildfires, bears, other large animals, insects, miscellaneous, industry-certified training courses.

Rules & Regulations that Protect the Worker
Contents:  Employment Standards Act, Workers' Compensation Act, Canada Human Rights Act, minimum camp standards, complying with client/licensee policies, employer policies, camp-specific or crew-specific policies, corporate organization.

What It's Like to Live in a Tree Planting Bush Camp
Contents:  Overview of basic structure, the daily routine, your cooks & meals, other equipment, when you're not in a tent camp.

Map Reading and GPS Systems
Contents:  GPS systems, other map features, understanding scales, geo-referenced digital maps, always know where you are.

Nature & the Environment
Contents:  Weather, determining direction from the sun, plants, animals, birds.

Here are some additional links and resources that might be of interest to potential planters:

Getting a Job:
Photo Galleries:
Planting Books:
Message Board:

Regardless of whether you're a first-time or experienced planter, if you're applying for work at a new company, use the following list of questions to help determine if that employer would be a good fit:

If you're trying to figure out what you'll need for gear, here's a PDF that might help:

Ok, I think that's the main stuff for now.  You may wonder why I'm offering all of this stuff for free?  You may think, "what does he want in return?"  Well, that's a good question, because I actually DO want something in return:  I want you all to share this with as many other potential planters as you can.  Make sure they have the opportunity to get a full understanding of what they're getting themselves into, BEFORE they put their first tree in the ground.  If someone isn't suited for tree planting, it's much better that they "quit" before they start, instead of three or four days into the season.

Also, if you'd like a copy of this material in book form, it's available from Amazon (plus the book includes quite a bit of additional information that isn't included in the videos).  Here's a link with more information:

 Here's a link to the post which last the last twelve videos in my tree planter training series:  

Oh, and by the way, keep this in mindI don't like to get my cameras wet.  Almost all of the photos and videos in these tutorials look all sunny and happy.  It's a facade.  We live in a world of mud, rain, and misery.

- Jonathan "Scooter" Clark

PS:  If you'd like to have access to transcriptions of the video contents, you can find them in all the posts in this forum:


Also, after watching all the videos, you'll probably be sick of the background song.  But if not, and if you want to hear (or download) the entire song, here's a SoundCloud link:

PS:  Many thanks to the WFCA (Western Forestry Contractors' Association) which helped get this project started several years ago, through a grant from the BC government.  Here is the WFCA's website link:


  1. Excellent blog, friend I want to ask how difficult it is for a foreigner to go to work as a planter?
    Diego i from Colombia

    1. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult. Start your research here: