Saturday, February 11, 2017

Tree Planter Training, Pre-Season Overview

In 2005, I put an initial series of tree planter training videos online.  Those video were getting thousands of views every year, but they were very low quality.  YouTube was still in its infancy, and digital video resolutions & frame-rates were very limited.  In 2012, I started the project over again from scratch, and by 2017, I was fairly happy with what I had produced.  From 2019 onward, I'll be updating the videos every year to maximize the quality of the content.

The training consists of twenty modules altogether.  The first six (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 other fourteen 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 travelling to your first work site.

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 six videos are just slightly over three hours in total length, so you'll need to set aside an afternoon or evening to watch them.  I'd suggest that you watch them with a pen and paper, so you can make a list of questions to 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.

There is a print version of this information, available on Amazon.  The book is called Step By Step, A Tree Planter's Handbook.  The book actually contains FAR more information than these videos do.  Ultimately, if you get a job as a tree planter, I'd highly recommend that you buy a copy of Step By Step.  More than a dozen major tree planting companies are using it as the basis for their training framework, and they'll probably tell you that you have to buy a copy anyway.  Get ahead of the curve, because there is an incredible amount of information in the book.  In addition, it's full of reference information that will be useful to experienced planters (such as a chapter about coastal planting, with a list of contacts for coastal companies, and chapters about logging, helicopters, other silviculture work, and a lot of things that the YouTube videos don't address).  Here's more information:

But for now, here are the first six 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.


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

Tendonitis Resources from Total Physio:
"Fit To Plant" from Selkirk College:

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:

You may wonder why I'm offering all of these videos 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.

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

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:


  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: