(photo credit:Ancho Gosh)
Forester for a Day is a special KKL JNF program for tourist groups, who are offered an exciting experience—working with professional KKL JNF foresters. Program participants are invited to include a day of work in their Israel trip, at the end of which they receive a forester certificate as a token of appreciation for their contribution. They gain a different, inside view of Israel and a chance to make a direct connection with Israel's landscapes.
KKL JNF World Marketing Conference participants visited the Carmel and also had a chance to do some forestry. As we heard, going out to the field and having a hands-on experience is the best marketing device.
The Carmel Forest, which sustained major damage a little over a year ago in the largest fire in the history of the State of Israel, needs extra hands now more than ever. Since the fire, thousands of volunteers have assisted KKL JNF in the rehabilitation of the forest, and there are future plans to expand this activity to other regions in Israel.
Conference participants were not there just to hear explanations but also to roll up their sleeves and get to work. They received tools and work gloves and went into the forest. The light in their eyes and their enthusiasm proved once again that there is nothing like a personal experience for connecting directly to the land.
“We had heard about the fire damage on the Carmel, but now we are seeing it with our own eyes,” said Ms. Katja Tsafrir, KKL JNF Emissary in Germany. “After the fire, we received many calls from people who wished to help. I now feel like a real Zionist pioneer, for whom words are not enough, because action is what really matters.”
Ms. Denise Tanzer from Italy was happy about the chance to feel nature with her hands. “This feeling is very different than when someone just tells you about what happened.”
Mr. Frank Wilson from Canada said that when he was on the Carmel right after the fire, everything was black, and you could still smell the smoke and the charred wood. “It is awesome to be back here,” he said, “and to see the green coming back.”
Mr. Robert Schneider from Australia said it was a privilege to assist in rehabilitating natural spaces that have been damaged. “From a marketing perspective,” he said, “you can tell the story a hundred times, but ultimately you have to see it and feel it.”
Ms. Yael Shealtieli, KKL JNF Director General, told the conference participants about the fire that caused such great damage to the Carmel, and she described the restoration work that has been done since then. “KKL JNF is not the Israel Fire Department, but just as people keep basic fire suppression equipment in their homes, we also do, because we are committed to the protection of the forest. Our job is to delay the spreading of a wildfire until the firefighters arrive."
Mr. Chaim Cohen, President of KKL JNF South Africa, concluded by saying a few words and noted the importance of connecting the younger generation to KKL JNF. “It is very important,” he said, “that our children understand who we are and what we are doing.