Junior Forest Wardens
The Junior Forest Wardens (JFW) is a Canadian volunteer-led organization focussed on developing a wildlife and wildlands conservation ethic in youth. The organization is almost a hundred years old. It began in the 1920s, when a group of boys reported a forest fire to a local forest ranger in the province of British Columbia. The magazine “Forest and Outdoors”, which was published by the Canadian Forestry Association (CFA), devoted a section to the activities, interests, and education of children. When a story was published in 1929 about how two boys discovered a small forest fire on Snug Cove on Bowen Island in British Columbia and assisted a Ranger in putting it out, an interest in this type of assistance grew. In the publicity that followed this incident, boys across the province wrote to find out what they could do to help in similar ways. As a result of this, Charles Wilkinson, a member of the Canadian Forestry Association in the region, formed the Junior Fire Warden program as a vehicle for teaching boys about forest protection.
By 1930, more than 300 boys from across British Columbia had joined. In 1931, a tree was planted in Stanley Park, Vancouver, with soil collected by Wardens from across the province. The tree still stands today, as a symbol of the movement.
In 1932, the name of the organization was changed to the name it bears today. The first Chief Warden was appointed by Vancouver Mayor W.H. Malkin in a ceremony in Vancouver at the time of the renaming. The program already included the earning of bronze badges in these early days.
In 1934, the "red shirt" uniform still worn by members today was created. In addition, the boys and their organizers spontaneously formed into regional "clubs", beginning in the Vancouver area and spreading across the province.
By 1942, Charles Wilkinson offered the job of Chief Warden to Bill Myring, who toured the province to lecture on conservation and help consolidate the organizing of local JFW clubs.
Girls also became interested as well in wildfire prevention and forest conservation .A sister organization for girls was organized in 1944 under the name "Girl Forest Guards" by Margaret Myring, the wife of Bill Myring. About 500 girls joined a newly formed organization. The two organizations were distinct until they were merged under the common banner of the Junior Forest Wardens in 1974.
In 1961, the activities of the Junior Forest Wardens in the province of British Columbia came to the attention of the Honorable Norman Willmore, a cabinet minister in the government for the province of Alberta. Impressed by the quality and range of their activities, Willmore sought to create an Alberta Charter for the Junior Forest Wardens, which was officially inaugurated in February 1962. Bill Myring, then Chief Warden of British Columbia, was then appointed Chief Warden of Canada, a position he retained until his death in 1989. Ken Kelsey held this position from 1990 to 2000, followed by Dave Cullen.
Junior Forest Wardens in Alberta
From 1961 until 2007 the Junior Forest Warden program was adminisntered by provincial government. A central office in Hinton, operating through a network of Alberta Forest Service Ranger Stations, first carried out the administration of the program throughout the province. The office was eventually moved to Edmonton, Alberta the seat of the provincial government in Alberta.
The title Chief Warden, which was a volunteer position in British Columbia, was used as a designation for the most senior bureaucrat with the Alberta Public Service who held primary responsibility for delivering the program in the province. The first Chief Warden in Alberta was Terry Whitely (1960 - 1967). Terry, a British expatriate who assumed the role in 1960 moved him and his family from Smith, Alberta where he was Chief Warden to Hinton, Alberta. Other Chief Wardens in Alberta have been: George Brewster (1967 - 1979), Bill Bresnahan (1980 - 1995), Jim Skrenek (1995- 1996), Bob Young (1996). During Bob Young’s tenure, the Chief Warden became a separate volunteer position from the provincial coordinator. The position is awarded to a volunteer who is elected by the provincial association. Ernst Klaszus was the first volunteer to hold position of Alberta’s Chief Warden from 1998 to 2007. Upon his retirement, he was given the title Chief Warden Emeritus and Terry Garrett was appointed Chief Warden in April 2007. .
 Junior Forest Wardens is an exciting and educational opportunity for young people and their families to have fun, develop skills, and get educated in the many and diverse aspects of our natural environment. The Junior Forest Wardens have built their programs foundation using the four components of forestry, ecology, outdoor skills and leadership.
Young people between the ages of 6 – 18 can join a local club, and enjoy age specific programming in one of the four appropriate age classes. Pathfinders – Ages 6-8 Trailblazers – Ages 9-11 Adventurers- Ages 12-14 Challengers – Ages 15-17
One of the key characteristics of the program is that parents are encouraged to participate with their children, in any aspect of the club program; from providing their expertise in a leadership or resource role, parent supervision, to learning right alongside of their kids. Leadership development for parents is a key component of th eprogram as the majority of the program is provided through their volunteer efforts.
Junior Forest Wardens is an outdoor oriented program, with an emphasis on the experience. The program is committed to providing opportunities to get outdoors: camping, backpacking, canoeing, mountaineering, tree planting and more! And to prepare for adventures like these, education is offered and promoted in wilderness skills development, first aid, trip planning and survival. To provide a greater appreciation of the natural resources while outdoors, Wardens are taught about tree, plant and animal identification, soil types, weather and water, resource management, threats to the environment and our resources and the list goes on...
Clubs typically meet once per week to provide evening programming, and add to the calendar an outdoor trip once per month. This schedule is augmented by offerings through the District, Regional and Provincial councils that give the opportunity to share the experience with a larger audience, networking with other clubs, and enhancing the experience.
The organization continues to this day, and has chapters all across the country. Many of today's employees in the forestry service in Canada, whether government or industry, received their first training in the Junior Forest Warden program. Although there is a dearth of documented material describing the history of the organization, participation is widely cited and respected within Canadian circles. Since 1985, the program has been expanded to provide additional opportunities for training in Forestry, Ecology, Leadership and Outdoor Skills. It offers an interesting alternative to the Scouts or Girl Guides initiatives with a uniquely Canadian flavor.
Club Names and Locations
Bragg Creek Bald Eagles
Calgary Black Bears
Medicine Hat Warriors
Wheatland Wild Things
David Thompson Region
Cottonwood Cougars Innisfail
Red Deer Woodchucks
Rocky Mountain House Rams
Stettler Swift Foxes
Cold Lake Chipmunks
Grande Prairie Garter Snakes
Peace River Wolverines
Smoky River Bears Falher
Clymont Great Horned Owls
Edmonton Water Striders
Glory Hills Stony Plain
Lac Ste. Anne Ospreys
Tofield Snow Geese Home School
Sherwood Park Saw-Whets
Whitecourt Whiskey Jacks
East Coast Spruce Buds
St. John's East JFW
The Junior Forest Warden Motto
"Keep our Forest Green"
The Junior Forest Warden Watchword
"Watch and Warn"
The Junior Forest Warden Pledge
"As one who believes in the aims of the Junior Forest Wardens, I pledge myself and my services to the appreciation and responsible use of our forests, wildlife, and natural heritages."
The original pledge was composed in the 1940s in order to answer the question of how to put the Junior Forest Warden code into practice day‑by‑day. In 1987 the current pledge was developed. It includes a promise to protect and conserve the environment and to help others to be more aware.
The Junior Forest Warden Code
"God has given us the earth for our life. It is a great entail. It belongs as much to those who come after us as to us, and we have no right by anything we do, or neglect to do, to involve them in unnecessary penalties or to deprive them of benefits which are theirs by right."
John Ruskin wrote the above words.