Faces of Forestry is an initiative of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC) to highlight people doing great work to enhance our forests throughout British Columbia. This month, we feature Kirsteen Laing, RPF (Registered Professional Forester), Administrator at Seaton Forest Products Ltd.
Born in England, Kirsteen originally moved to Vancouver with her family at the age of 10. Where she later decided to pursue higher education at the University of British Columbia, and after two years of pre-med school, she discovered that her true passion was in the outdoors.
“I decided medicine wasn’t for me, so I went to talk to one of the forestry professors. He was enthusiastic and told me of all the possibilities found in forestry. I entered the program thinking I would do Forest Recreation, but I ended up in Forest Silviculture,” remarked Kirsteen.
In the early stages of her career, Kirsteen joined CUSO International and worked as a forester in Mozambique. During her stay, she first worked for a national logging company and then for a plantation, where she gained experience revitalizing a nursery.
“It was a forester’s dream to have our own little forest to work with. The project was fascinating because it covered beekeeping, fishkeeping, planting orchards, and vegetable gardening,” said Kirsteen.
In 1986, Kirsteen decided to relocate to Smithers, British Columbia, where she started a forestry consulting firm. After many career changes, in 2015, Kirsteen met her partner Andy Thompson and joined Seaton Forest Products Ltd.; as an Administrator in charge of payroll, payables and receivables, log deliveries, product shipping, reporting and various hands-on tasks.
Seaton Forest Products Ltd. is nestled among coastal mountains in the beautiful Bulkley Valley, where the mill sits at the foot of Seaton Mountain. The company has been in business since 2016, employing approximately 25 people, the majority being from local Indigenous communities. The primary business is processing dry balsam, pine, and spruce that cannot be used by traditional mills and historically has been left in the bush or burned, ensuring the 100% utilization of fibre.
During her career, Kirsteen has done it all. From working for industry, volunteering overseas, consulting, working for not-for-profits, and now working at a sawmill. She describes her career as a rewarding journey. In every role Kirsteen excels at, she puts other people and the environment first.
“Forestry is a very diverse field with many different career paths to choose from after graduation,” remarked Kirsteen.