Featured Agrologist - Martin Sills, P.Ag. (Retired)

I arrived in Williams Lake in the Spring of 1977, coming out of McGill. I still had the bright cosmopolitan lights of Montreal in the rear view mirror when I saw cowboys, beer cans blowing down dusty streets, and more pickup trucks than I’d ever seen in my life. Boy my bright red Triumph TR-6 is going to stick out like a sore thumb here….. My first thought was Holy Jeez, I’m in Dodge, I’ll be here for 2 years tops!!!

I started my career with BC Lands and was overwhelmed by the friendliness of all of my co-workers with offers of any assistance to help me settle in. Much to my pleasant surprise this was representative of most everyone here and after experiencing my first stampede, it’s one of the largest in Canada, I was hooked and Williams Lake became home.

To state that I had a truly wonderful career in agrology would be an understatement. With BC Lands I started as a Land Officer, accepting, referring, analyzing and inspecting applications for crown land in the Cariboo region. This involved much travel as the region boundaries were roughly west to Quesnel, east to Wells Gray Park, south to Clinton and west to Bella Coola with several 100 km’s of coastline, so 4X4 trucks, floatplanes and the occasional helicopter were now my modes of transportation. What a job to have!! I was the Senior Land Officer when Lands was virtually dissolved in the mid 1990’s as the government of the day decided to curtail access to crown land as the competing demands from other resource agencies and First Nations was highlighted. I am very proud of my almost 20 years with Lands. I had instilled “service excellence” in staff having them really listen to the dreams of applicants and to do what it took to make it happen, a refreshing thought in government when saying no was the fastest and easiest way out. 

So now on to Phase two of my wonderful agrology journey!

There was now an opportunity presented by the Ministry of Agriculture as a Regional Land Agrologist to assist in solving often complex land and resource-based issues as well as administer the Grazing Enhancement Fund. This was a multi million-dollar fund designed to resolve range issues initiated by ranchers’ applications that were considered by a team of government and agriculture industry members. A tremendous amount of good news projects was accomplished such as fencing, range cabins, watering facilities and even a bridge.

My 17 years with Agriculture proved to be the most enjoyable, again lots of travel, this time more on a provincial basis and many field trips into Oregon and Washington as a member of the Pacific Northwest Society for Range Management.  The ministry was keen on professional development and networking as range issues were common and shared between those 2 states and BC. One main reason why I was so pleased was that resource-based ministries are enforcement driven whereas Agriculture is encouragement driven, so refreshing to say that I’m with government and I’m here to help and actually mean it!!  Well it is said that all good things must come to an end and after a truly wonderful career it was time to call it a day.  Agrology had allowed me to make an indelible mark on BC as my legacy. I enjoyed it so much that while most leave once the government pension is maxed at 35 years I stayed for further 2 years as there were still some things that I wished to accomplish.

So now onto Phase three!      Julie and I in Dubrovnik Croatia
Retirement! Trust me being retired is much better than being real tired…… Now with being in charge of my own schedule, the freedom is wonderful. When you think about it from the time you are 5 and start kindergarten until you retire at 60 you have spent 55 years on someone else’s schedule. But one still has to set goals. Travel is one of them, and Julie and I have travelled extensively in the past 5 years with much more to come. (Photo: Julie & I in Dubrovnik ,Croatia) Another key goal is to give back to the BCIA. While I may have left my position I still remain dedicated to my profession. Agrology gave me a career that I was passionate about. It also provided very well for my family, so time to pay it forward….
I had the opportunity while still working to be involved with the BCIA and served on several committees, was the Director South of the Cariboo Central Interior branch for many years and served on the Institute’s council for 6 years. Now with more time available I’m taking on more. I have just completed over a 4 year term as President of the CCI branch. Currently I serve on the Nominations Committee, and I chair both the Credentials and Communications Committees. Great to remain connected and relevant and offer to share my 42 years expertise as a P.Ag. with others.

In closing I thought I’d share my exit note that between the ministry, friends, family and other colleague’s it landed in about 600 inboxes. And yes I still call Williams Lake home…..

March 2104

We’re here for a good time

Not a long time

So have a good time

The sun can’t shine every day.....

This song, performed by the iconic Canadian band Trooper, was a big hit in the Spring of 1977 when I started my career with the government. While some of you (maybe most!) will have to Google it, I liked it then and still like it now as the words still ring true..... To say my career supporting sound land use management and the agricultural sector has been immensely satisfying would be an understatement. It has exceeded my hopes and expectations of challenges and excitement. The only thing that surpasses that have been the truly wonderful people that I have had the honour to work with. Many of you, and you know who you are, have been influential and an inspiration in my both my career and my life, and for that I am forever grateful.

In reflection there is very little that I would have changed in both my professional and personal life, Wow after 37 years it doesn’t get much better than that.  Now Julie and I look forward with eager anticipation to where our life’s journey will take us next and wherever that may be it will be great and we’ll both be smiling......

I wish everyone the very best in life!