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Next-gen leaders: Meet Zachary Wagman


October 15, 2019
By Canadian Forest Industries Staff

Each year, Canadian Forest Industries is proud to highlight 10 men and women under 40 who exemplify the best of Canada’s forest industry. Our seventh annual Top 10 Under 40 consists of inspiring young men and women who represent every aspect of the forest sector, and love what they do.

To acknowledge and highlight each winner’s contributions, CFI will feature one of 2019’s winners every week for the next 10 weeks.

This week, we introduce our readers to Zachary Wagmna, green jobs manager for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, based in Ottawa.

This past summer, 25-year-old Zachary Wagman could be found riding a wooden bike across the country, promoting Project Learning Tree Canada (PLT Canada)’s Green Jobs program. PLT Canada, an initiative of SFI, received funding from the federal government to support over 2,000 youths in green jobs last summer and this past summer, explains Jessica Kaknevicius, Zac’s co-worker.

As the green jobs manager, Zac has been instrumental in reaching out to employers, to youth and administering the program, she says.

Last fall, Zac proposed biking across Canada to visit forestry employers and youth, to bring to life their stories of working in green jobs. He provided a comprehensive plan that outlined all aspects of the campaign, planning to bike over 9,000 kilometres, taking some non-traditional routes along the way to meet with employers and employees.

Biking across the country was one of Zac’s personal goals, and this campaign allowed him to achieve that dream while also connecting with SFI’s partners and communicating the youth working in green jobs.

“For us to be able to get these stories and connect with these partners would take years and a lot of travel time,” says Kaknevicius. But Zac was able to do this in just five months, starting his bike ride in Victoria in May and finishing in Newfoundland in September.

Along the way, he was able to meet hundreds of youth in green jobs, sharing their work experiences and advice for future youth on social media.

“His social feed has been entertaining and educational – and the campaign has really brought together partners across the country committed to growing Green Jobs in the forest and conservation sectors,” says Kaknevicius.

“I’ve been in this sector now for over 15 years, and to have something that is really positive, that’s bringing people together across the country, has been quite inspiring,” she adds.

And SFI will be able to use the content and stories Zac has gathered for years to come. The videos Zac took will be developed into a documentary highlighting the different people he met and their experience in the industry. The videos will also be promoted online to raise public awareness about opportunities in forestry, and will be used in classrooms along with educational resources.

Zac’s bike adventure might be over, but its impact will be felt throughout the industry for years to come. Zac, who did not have previous experience in the industry before joining SFI, has also become more engaged and educated, says Kaknevicius.

“He’s doing great things for the industry and I think it’s just the start of what’s to come,” she concludes.

Up next: we showcase the achievements of winner Jessica Rempel.