News & Updates
Business School Tree-planting Admission Essay: Quantifying Greener Goals
By Devon de Langely
I have been immersed in many physically grueling activities throughout my life, from years of high-level competitive sports to reaching the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. To date, tree-planting has been by far the most physically demanding activity I’ve experienced. Planting in Prince George, British Columbia gave me a true perspective on what it means to work hard. It opened my eyes to a world of sheer dedication, sacrifice, motivation, and toughness. I have since tried to apply the life-lessons that I took away from tree-planting last summer to my academic and athletic pursuits.
My goal to be the fastest rookie planter was a long shot, being 17 years old and the youngest at camp. But after only the first training day, Vinnie, the Camp Coordinator and Field Supervisor, took me under his wing, because he said he noticed my potential. For the rest of the season, I was fortunate enough to be put on a 6-person crew alongside my brother Brennan, a second year planter and current Ivey student, and my cousin Miriam. This was probably the best choice that Vinnie could have made. The family competition and drive to out-plant my brother day in and day out, allowed me to quickly develop the skills required to be great. Brennan, Miriam and I learned to work as a team and communicate to ensure the ‘planting block’ was completed the most efficiently and with top quality trees.
Motivation played a huge role in my success as a first year planter. Something about living in a tent out in northern British Columbia for 2½ months makes it really easy to just give up. After overhearing Vinnie, a legend in the tree planting industry, call me his protégé, family and intrinsic values were now not my only sources of motivation. Every night, I would ensure all my gear was dry and ready for optimal usage to tackle the upcoming day.
Being the only rookie to hit 1000 trees on the first day was a memorable moment. Although I quickly realized my own potential, I truly believed I wouldn’t last the season. I overcame adversity, and ultimately I proved to myself that with the right attitude, I could be successful. I soon became the first rookie to hit 1500 and then 2000 trees planted in a day. My most humbling moment was when Erik Brinkman, the Project Manager and son of Joyce Murray, stood up in front of the entire camp and congratulated me on reaching 2000 trees. Erik proceeded to advise all the rookies to strive in their own way to find the motivation and success that I have found.
The truth about tree-planting is that you will become accustomed to pounding your shovel in the ground thousands of times a day, planting in ridiculous rain and heat, being attacked by hundreds of mosquitos and black flies, pulling thorns out of your own forearms, and taking off your gloves after work with your hands looking like shriveled prunes. But the reward to reach my goals and mentally and physically push myself with tree-planting last summer was more than worth the difficulties.
Post Script by Erik Brinkman
Devon submitted this essay in an admission application to Business School and put me down as the reference. All I had to do is sign in and press a button at the bottom of the essay that said either “agree or disagree.” I pressed “agree,” and then asked him if we could put it in the Newsletter. He agreed.