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This May Be The Most Badass Job In Canada You Didn't Know About

Nature vs. everybody.

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Tratnik is a fourth-year student at the University of Guelph who spends her summers and winters planting trees in muddy wooded areas of Quebec and Ontario.

She says a lot of "broke university students" like herself are contracted during planting season to earn money on the side.

But she tells BuzzFeed Canada that most planters don't fit the “hippie, tree-hugger” profile people might assume — it's one of the most gruelling jobs you can take. And almost everyone gets their ass kicked.


For 1) You get paid by the tree (usually 9 to 10 cents/tree). It drives competition, so planters are putting in upwards of 6,000 trees a day.

Jessica Tratnik

Which also means sticking your hand in the thistly ground thousands of times a day.

"The more you plant, the more you make," Tratnik says. "So you’ve got to be eager for money and hungry for competition, whether it’s between yourself or other planters."

On the flip-side, however, when land conditions or other natural elements make it harder to plant, you may only get fewer than 2,000 trees.

For 2) Planters live on the land in tents. Your day starts at 6 a.m., and ends well into the evening. You're often working 6 days a week.

Jessica Tratnik

Planters usually take the day off to shower, "rest up and heal our wounds."

Tratnik also notes that it often snows at the start of planting season, so they will wake up in the bitter cold, but almost always end their days soaked in sweat. "[It's] very hard on your body and you usually end up soaking wet up to your waist — even on a hot sunny day because you’re planting in swamps and wet areas. But you can also be planting in dry sandy areas," she says.

When they're out on the job, they live completely out of their backpacks.

And, like any trade of the great outdoors, you face its unpredictability and its dangers. As in: There is a great chance you will come face-to-face with a bear.

Jessica Tratnik

Tratnik recounts a time when a bear appeared through a tree line, and she tried to throw rocks at it to keep it away. "I ended up calling my crew boss over and he stayed in the crew van to keep [the bear] on the other side of the road while other planters on my crew and I finished up so we could get out of there," she said.

But perhaps one of the most frightening experiences she's had was when she was sucked in up to the waist in mud — out alone in the field — and couldn't struggle her way out. Luckily, a friend was able to get to her and help her out in time.

But the grime and hustle creates a real community and camaraderie among tree planters.

Jessica Tratnik

"A pretty common saying among tree planters is that, 'I hate planting trees, but I love tree planting,'" Tratnik says about the friends she's made on the job. "Your crew members and fellow planters become your brothers and sisters of the bush. Through the snow, bugs, bears, moose, rain and sun, you become one of the strongest (physically and mentally) people you’ve ever been in your entire life."