A successful pilot program showed high school students what a career in mineral exploration looks like “in the field” while getting their hands and boots dirty on an active exploration project.
On Friday, June 10, a busload of year 10, 11 and 12 students arrived at a remote field site on a forestry road about an hour northwest of Kamloops in southern BC. Soon after meeting the onsite team and a safety briefing, the students from five schools were split into three groups. Within 45 minutes of arriving, one team of students had their hands and boots dirty collecting soil sediment samples, another group was sketching stratigraphic sections and the third was studying soils and vegetation.
This unique opportunity was born from the vital need to introduce older high school students on the cusp of making decisions about their careers to the mineral exploration industry. The pilot program on June 10 was made into a reality by cooperation between the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME), MineralsEd, and SGDS Hive, together with teachers from the School District 83 Career Program, and sponsorship from Yamana Gold.
“We saw an opportunity to catch the attention of high school students interested in earth science, the environment and being outdoors right when they are making decisions about their futures. We wanted to introduce them to mineral exploration as a study and career option with fun, first-hand experiences on an active project.”Kylie Williams, Director, Communication and Member Relations, AME
According to the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MiHR), the mining sector, including mineral exploration, will need to recruit almost 100,000 new workers within the next decade to meet labour supply requirements. Closer to home and more immediately, companies operating summer field programs in British Columbia are struggling to find enough trained workers for all aspects of exploration work. Every effort to engage and inspire students to consider mineral exploration and mining contributes to the future of our industry.
With sponsorship funding from Yamana Gold, AME approached MineralsEd to help shape and deliver the program in late 2021. Through the Teacher Professional Development program at AME Roundup, the MineralsEd team had established a strong relationship with careers teachers from School District No. 83 in the North Okanagan-Shuswap area who were excited to participate. The final piece of the puzzle was finding a safe, active, accessible mineral exploration project to visit.
AME board member, Andy Randell, P.Geo., CEO and Principal Geoscientist, SGDS Hive, volunteered his Vidette Lake project, a grassroots silver-copper-gold project near Kamloops. He was joined by SGDS Hive geologist Daniel Ramirez and biologist and teacher, David Wilkie.
Over the course of the day, the groups of students circulated between three stations, collecting soil sediments with Dan, learning to sketch a stratigraphic section with Andy, and the importance of vegetation and soils to an exploration or mining project with Dave.
The three teachers – George Richard, School District 83 Career Education Coordinator, Greg Seed, Career Coordinator at Salmon Arm Secondary school, and Ryan Meise, physics, math, and earth science teacher at Eagle River Secondary school in Sicamous – declared the pilot career spotlight a success and had some fun themselves, but it is the feedback from the students that speaks volumes:
Will you consider seeking work in the minerals industry when your schooling is complete?
I could totally see myself working in this field”Yr 11 student, Salmon Arm Secondary School (Sullivan Campus)
“Yes, because it seems rewarding and fun”Yr 11 student, A. L. Fortune Secondary School, Enderby
“Yes, because I can be outside in different places and get paid well”Yr 11 student, Salmon Arm Secondary School (Sullivan Campus)
“Possibly, in heavy equipment apprenticing”Yr 11, Eagle River Secondary School, Sicamous
What did you learn about the mineral exploration process and career options that you didn’t know before this site visit?
“That it’s a lot more interesting than I assumed. It’s really cool”Yr 11, Salmon Arm Secondary School (Sullivan Campus)
“The fact that many experts from different fields are needed”Yr 11, Pleasant Valley Secondary School, Armstrong
What was your favourite thing you learned on this field trip? Did anything surprise you?
“I liked getting hands-on and actually learning what these jobs do”Yr 11, Salmon Arm Secondary School (Sullivan Campus)
“I was surprised how much is actually done outside and I like the getting samples in the ground”Yr 11, Salmon Arm Secondary School (Sullivan Campus)
One hundred percent of the students on the trip responded that the trip was valuable and would recommend it to other students.
If you or your company would like to contribute to expanding this program either with sponsorship or opening up your exploration site for a visit, please contact Kylie Williams, Director, Communications and Member Relations, AME.