“You know its a good job when it doesn’t feel like work,” says Cori Klassen about working for the Lesser Slave Forest Education Society.
Klassen starts as the executive director of LSFES in September. In the past, she was the LSFES boreal educator for nine years.
The LSFES has two positions the executive director and the boreal educator.
Klassen grew up outside High Prairie. After one year at Grand Prairie College, she travelled around Europe for a year, spending much of the time in Ireland. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bishops University in Quebec. It is one of only two English language universities in Quebec and the only one in small town.
“I just always loved language and literature,” Klassen says. She started out studying psychology, then thought about foreign languages, but decided “why don’t I learn my own language very well.”
“Even in my career, I feel, it (English BA) served me well,” Klassen says. “My dream was to be the first female Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.”
Alice Munro was the first Canadian woman to win the prize in 2013. Margaret Atwood has been long listed several times, but hasn’t won yet.
Klassen no longer writes, but she still reads a lot.
After university Klassen lived in England and Scotland for three-and-a-half years. While there, she met her husband, who is British. She and her husband live in Slave Lake with their two young children.
The last three years, Klassen worked at a Slave Lake school as a career councilor.
Soon, she’ll be back at LSFES. She enjoys teaching people about the environment.
“It is super easy to buy into your job. You’re doing something good for your community,” Klassen says.
LSFES programming includes workshops in the schools, public education at libraries and events, and joint projects in the provincial park.
“The forest education society has a good reputation for being the experts (and) leaders in forest education,” Klassen says.
LSFES isn’t busy in the summer. M.J. Kristoff, the outgoing executive director, often took most of the summer off. Kristoff suggested that Klassen take the summer off and start in September. The school year is the busiest time for LSFES.
Klassen intends to “continuing on with what M.J. has created. She’s such a force. Even just stepping into the role is intimidating.”
LSFES has education partnerships with the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation, the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory and the Slave Lake Watershed Council. Klassen is eager to continue these relationships.
Klassen will work with the board which includes representatives from the five mills in Slave Lake and High Prairie, Northern Lakes College, and others.