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So you want to go tree planting. Or, you've already planted for several years and want to try a new company. Awesome!

This guide gives you some ideas of what to look for when considering a new company to work for, whether it’s your first, fifth, or twenty-fifth season.


For Experienced Tree Planters, Reasons to Switch Companies:

  • You are curious about other camp or company experiences

  • You are searching for better working conditions, better food, and higher tree prices

  • You have outgrown the culture in your camp

  • Lots of your friends are retiring or moving on

  • You had a relationship end and are looking for a new experience

Whatever your reason, moving companies can be intimidating, sad, and difficult. Lots of big feelings! It can also be a significant growth experience, giving you a fresh perspective about the industry, a way to meet new friends and become a more well-rounded planter.

Before Your Interview

As keen as you are to get a job, remember you are interviewing your crew leader just as much as they are interviewing you.

It’s best to talk to whoever will be your daily ‘boss’ or crew leader, as this will be the person you work with every day.

Crew leaders are often very busy, sometimes working full-time in the winter or going through a busy school semester. Despite that, the crew leader or someone from the company needs to take the time for a phone call, video call, or in-person interview. This is a sign that they are invested in the culture and safety of their crew and want to know more about the person they may be hiring.

Basic Information That Should Be Shared During an Interview

  • Season start and end dates

  • Contract details (camp locations, average tree price, total number of trees for the season)

  • Number of planters and crew leaders in each camp

  • How are workers paid? Does the company use direct deposit and pay every two weeks?

  • Training provided by the company, and if employees are paid for it (ATV, driving, chainsaw, first aid, etc.)

  • Camp or motel costs

  • PPE requirements, and if it is provided

  • Additional non-planting work opportunities available with the company, such as brushing, firefighting, cone-picking, or survey work

Additional Questions You Can Ask To Get A Better Picture of the Company Culture

Keep in mind you don’t need to ask every one of these questions. Pick and choose a few based on your values.

  • Tell me about the company's health and safety program. Is there anything the company does concerning health and safety that is exceptional or better than most?

  • Does the company pay planters for tasks such as camp tear-down, unloading reefers, and doing dishes? If so, how are they paid?

  • Are crew leaders paid by salary or commission based on worker production?

  • What is the ratio of managers/supervisors/support staff to workers?

  • How would you describe the camp culture? Is there a competitive culture in camp? Do planters compare numbers at the end of the day?

  • Is there a party culture? If there is a party, does the company ensure there are first aid-trained designated sober personnel in camp able to respond to any issues?

  • What does a day off typically look like for planters?

  • What kinds of systems or programs are in place to support employee wellness? Are there systems for arranging appointments with physiotherapists or other practitioners?

  • What is the typical gender balance in camp among tree planters?

  • What is the gender balance among management?

  • What policies are in place concerning bullying and harassment? What are the systems in place for employees to report such problems? Note that if the company trains their staff properly, this question should be easy to answer.

  • Does the company endorse the Principles of Respectful Conduct in Forestry? Is this part of the company training program?

  • Does the company take any steps to make its operations inviting, inclusive, and safe for people of all backgrounds and identities, such as the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities? Be aware that people may have varying levels of fluency on these topics and may sometimes use different terms, acronyms, and pronouns. However, in approaching this topic, you can get a sense of individual and organizational attitudes and awareness regarding diversity and inclusivity and get an idea if this is the kind of place where you want to work.

  • Depending on how they answer the previous question, you may want to ask more specific questions on this topic. For example, are there any safe spaces or peer-level safety roles in camp? One camp I stayed at had a ‘safe person’ available for chats. They also had an extra tent someone could use if they were experiencing domestic violence or needed to escape an awkward or difficult situation. Many companies also have a Planter Safety Representative, typically designed to support planters with immediate concerns and advocate for physical and emotional well-being in camp. Mental Health First Aid training is common for this role.

Of course, the answers to these questions are for you to interpret. It’s a way of getting more information about where you’ll spend your summer and gaining an impression of your crew leader to see if you’re a good fit for each other. While there can be patience and understanding if someone struggles to answer many of these questions, it may be worth considering moving on in your search if your conversation indicates a significant gap in values or expectations.

There are a lot of great companies out there doing great work. Asking good questions during the job search can help make employers more aware of evolving worker expectations and help you, as a worker, determine if this employer is right for you.

Research Tips

There are different online forums where people within the industry discuss other companies and their experiences. While you can gain valuable insight from these spaces, they can also be subjective and provide inaccurate information. The best way to research the company is to seek opinions, experiences, and data from people you know and trust in your community (both in real life and online). If you come across forum groups with long threads and lots of feedback, assess if this is based on direct experience or personal information gleaned from the telephone game.

You are trying to see if the company’s values align with yours and if this workplace will be a good fit for you. Putting in the work to figure this out before you commit to a company can help set you up for success to have a great season.

Best of luck out there!


Choosing the Right Tree Planting Company

You are trying to see if the company’s values align with yours and if this workplace will be a good fit for you.

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