WorkCabin http://www.workcabin.ca Connecting conservation-focused job seekers with outstanding environmental jobs in Canada. Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:38:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Kick-start your conservation career in Canada by interning http://www.workcabin.ca/kick-start-your-conservation-career-by-interning/ http://www.workcabin.ca/kick-start-your-conservation-career-by-interning/#comments Fri, 13 Oct 2017 16:36:05 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=7481 NCC conservation intern monitoring plant communities (Photo by NCC) October 12, 2017 | by Adam Hunter Special to WorkCabin If you’re close to graduating from a post-secondary institution, you may have already started to think about applying for jobs related to your field of study. While school is an excellent place to expand your general knowledge, not all post-secondary programs […]

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NCC conservation intern monitoring plant communities (Photo by NCC)

NCC conservation intern monitoring plant communities (Photo by NCC)

October 12, 2017 | by Adam Hunter
Special to WorkCabin

If you’re close to graduating from a post-secondary institution, you may have already started to think about applying for jobs related to your field of study. While school is an excellent place to expand your general knowledge, not all post-secondary programs provide students with adequate opportunities to put what they’ve learned into practice. Employers often expect applicants to have some hands-on experience under their belt to be considered for most entry-level positions.

So how do you get this experience to build your skill set? Consider interning at an environmental or conservation organization, such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), during your summer break.

NCC summer interns and stewards of Pendleton Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

NCC summer interns and stewards of Pendleton Island, NB (Photo by NCC)

By doing a conservation internship, you’ll have an advantage over other applicants who may lack this kind of experience, and it will improve your chances of landing that dream entry-level job in the conservation sector. In fact, many former NCC interns have gone on to become full-time NCC staff, including Lisa McLaughlin, NCC’s vice-president of conservation policy and planning. Past NCC interns have also gone on to have successful careers in conservation at other organizations. For example, former NCC intern Donald Humphrey is now the regional manager of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Species at Risk program.

Here are some valuable assets and skills you can develop by interning in conservation:

Planning and organization

No matter what career path you choose to follow, the ability to plan ahead and be organized is highly valued by employers. This past summer, some Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) interns put these skills into action while planning Conservation Volunteers events.

2017 Boughton Island beach cleanup (Photo by NCC)

2017 Boughton Island beach cleanup (Photo by NCC)

“Over the summer, I organized three separate Conservation Volunteers events: Duck Day, Boughton Island Kayak Cleanup and Owl Build You a Nest Box,” says Leigh Gustafson, former Conservation Intern in Prince Edward Island. “The preparation and execution of these events taught me time management and public outreach skills, as well as how to think on my toes in moments when things don’t go according to plan.”

Working with your hands and using tools

While NCC expects its internship program applicants to be comfortable working with their hands and have familiarity with using tools, doing an internship can help you hone these transferable skills and learn how to use new tools.

“During my time with NCC, I learned how to wrap barbed wire fencing, remove fence posts by hand and clear a fence line,” says Christine Kuntzemann, former northern Alberta Conservation Intern.

Former interns have also gained experience using a wide range of tools, such as hammers, fencing pliers, loppers and secateurs.

Identifying species

Being able to identify species, especially invasive ones, is a crucial skill for many conservation sector positions, including field technician positions, environmental restoration jobs, range and riparian specialists and county weed inspectors. This aptitude is especially helpful for any role that involves identifying plants and managing land.

“I had never had formal training in flora or fauna identification, especially not with those found on PEI,” says Leigh. “I’m proud to say that I can now successfully identify all of PEI’s native tree species and a few shrubs and plants.”

Teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills

Virtually any job in the conservation sector requires working and interacting with others who come from diverse backgrounds and with their own viewpoints. Not only will you be interacting with fellow colleagues, but also with local landowners, partner organizations or community members.

NCC Conservation Intern Mitchell MacMillan working in the field, PEI (Photo by NCC)

NCC Conservation Intern Mitchell MacMillan working in the field, PEI (Photo by NCC)

“Jocelyn Wood, NCC’s West Coast program stewardship coordinator, taught me how to represent NCC while interacting with landowners, land managers and the public,” says Millie Kuyer, former BC Conservation Intern.

Collecting data

If you plan on applying to a position involving research or field work, the precision and observation skills involved in data collection will be especially important. Many former NCC interns have had opportunities to gain this valuable experience.

“I worked alongside British Columbia’s stewardship coordinator Richard Klafki to set up and collect data from remote cameras that tracked recreational trail usage and wildlife, including elk, deer, wolves and cougars,” says Millie.

Millie Kuyer (Photo by NCC)

Millie Kuyer (Photo by NCC)

In addition to the above skills, an internship provides you with opportunities to network with others in the conservation sector, including senior staff. With today’s highly competitive job market, networking has become especially important. Sending your application through an online portal can be compared to sending it into a black hole.

“My internship with NCC provided me with opportunities for both personal and professional growth. I have a new, more dynamic perspective on environmental stewardship and conservation, and a better understanding of what it means to work with communities, industry and other partners in ecosystem and land management,” says Millie. “I’m more certain now than ever that I am well-equipped — through education, experience and mentorship — to advance further down this incredible career path.”

NCC offers approximately 50 intern positions across the country every year, with most advertised and filled between January and April. To learn more about NCC’s Conservation Internship program, click here.

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WorkCabin filming conservation video series for Bird Studies Canada http://www.workcabin.ca/workcabin-filming-conservation-video-series-for-bird-studies-canada/ http://www.workcabin.ca/workcabin-filming-conservation-video-series-for-bird-studies-canada/#comments Thu, 28 Sep 2017 18:46:17 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=7380                   Bird Studies Canada, the nation’s leading science-based bird conservation organization, has hired WorkCabin to film and produce a professional series of videos. The project was filmed over two days in September at BSC’s national headquarters. Filming featured BSC staff from across Canada. “Professional conservation filmmaking is […]

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Conservation filmmaking in Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bird Studies Canada, the nation’s leading science-based bird conservation organization, has hired WorkCabin to film and produce a professional series of videos. The project was filmed over two days in September at BSC’s national headquarters. Filming featured BSC staff from across Canada.

“Professional conservation filmmaking is a growing part of WorkCabin’s unique connection to organizations and to the field we serve,” said founder and chief videographer Gregg McLachlan. “It’s an honour to work with BSC and help spread the word about conservation to even larger audiences across Canada.”

WorkCabin’s McLachlan is also a contributing filmmaker to a larger national video project for BSC.

“Every chance I get to head into the field with my video gear is an opportunity to tell amazing stories about conservation,” he added. “Doing this kind of work is a natural extension for WorkCabin as we really evolve the service into being way more than just a job board.”

To learn more about conservation filming for your organization, contact Gregg at nature@workcabin.ca

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New film short at Bruce Peninsula National Park http://www.workcabin.ca/new-film-short-at-bruce-peninsula-national-park/ http://www.workcabin.ca/new-film-short-at-bruce-peninsula-national-park/#comments Sat, 02 Sep 2017 13:23:57 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=7282 This summer, WorkCabin hauled our professional video gear to numerous nature destinations to film and produce several short videos. Here’s a video we shot at Bruce Peninsula National Park while exploring Dorcas Bay

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This summer, WorkCabin hauled our professional video gear to numerous nature destinations to film and produce several short videos. Here’s a video we shot at Bruce Peninsula National Park while exploring Dorcas Bay

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Women in conservation: Lisa McLaughlin http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-lisa-mclaughlin/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-lisa-mclaughlin/#comments Fri, 28 Apr 2017 17:30:53 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6522 By Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin.ca In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. From wandering the woods near her childhood home to building her career at […]

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By Raechel Bonomo
T
he Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin.ca

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

From wandering the woods near her childhood home to building her career at the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Lisa McLaughlin is no stranger to conservation.

Lisa began working for NCC as an intern the summer after she graduated from her masters program at the University of Guelph. She has worked her way up to become NCC’s acting vice-president, conservation. Lisa has helped mould many programs and projects over her time with NCC, including Conservation Volunteers — one of NCC’s most impactful Canada-wide programs.

Lisa McLaughlin removing invasive garlic mustard from Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

Lisa McLaughlin removing invasive garlic mustard from Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

Lisa McLaughlin removing invasive garlic mustard from Happy Valley Forest, ON (Photo by NCC)

Lisa continues to lead the way for women in conservation and her work to help protect Canada’s landscapes is far from completed.

Read myinterview with Lisa below:

RB: What is one of your first memories in or of nature?

LM: My first memories in nature are of camping with my family and wandering the woods near my house.

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

LM: My first job was working for the University of Guelph in Algonquin Park at the Wildlife Research Station. I was researching snapping turtles and painted turtles. That job taught me many life lessons: how your passion can be your work and how work can be your passion, that there are other people in the world who are wildly committed to conservation, research and science (when you meet them they will become lifelong friends) and to always bring a compass.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

LM: An amazing aspect of my job is that there is no typical day. Sure there are reports to read and emails to send, but I also sketch out new initiatives, brainstorm with colleagues, talk to partners, write policy, review procedures and, above all, solve problems.

RB: Tell me about a time you consider to be your “best moment in conservation.” This could be a moment you discovered something in nature, a moment you saw a species or something you learned about yourself.

LM: I’m fortunate to have had many “best” moments — from watching a mother bear scold her two rowdy cubs who were goofing around on the road, to watching a pack of wolves work as a team to catch an elk. But maybe my favourite was gliding in a boat, next to a basking shark that was feeding at the surface of the water in the Bay of Fundy.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in conservation?

LM: Women around the world are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change and poor natural resource management for a variety of social and systematic reasons. We also know that women play a key role in sustainable development and climate change mitigation. The International Union of Conservation of Nature has created the Global Gender Office to raise awareness of and bring a voice to these issues. In Canada, while women hold many different positions in conservation, research and the environment, there is still work to do in attaining gender pay equity and filling positions on corporate and not-for-profit Boards of Directors.

RB: What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in conservation?

LM: My advice is to explore many different aspects of conservation when you’re just starting out. Try field work, try lab work, organize your community to get involved in conservation, learn about indigenous traditional knowledge. Find mentors and reach out to them.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo

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Women in conservation: Carissa Sideroff http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-carissa-sideroff/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-carissa-sideroff/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:36:31 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6447 By Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin.ca In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. In a small northern Alberta town lies a farm where a patch of […]

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By Raechel Bonomo
T
he Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin.ca

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

In a small northern Alberta town lies a farm where a patch of tall trees line the fields, creating a perimeter of what once served as a fortress for Carissa Sideroff and her siblings. With plastic bread bags around their socked feet and lining their rubber boots, the Sideroff children spent their summer vacations on the farm, collecting colourful flowers and rocks to adorn their grandparents’ farm-house porch. As the rock pile along the weathered railing grew, so did Carissa’s passion for nature.

While she may live far from the farm now, her days of exploring Canada’s diverse lands are far from over.

Read my interview with Carissa below:

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this situation that has helped you now?

CS: My first job out of university was the job I am in now at NCC.  I have learned so much over the past two years, working for a non-profit conservation organization, and it has really built my appreciation for undisturbed nature, whether it be a wetland, forest or Saskatchewan’s native prairie.

When you take the time to look around and appreciate all the little things, like a robin’s nest in a shrub with three little eggs about to hatch, nature is amazing. I think being out in the field has taught me to slow down and appreciate the little things.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

CS: A typical work day in the field usually starts at around 6:00 a.m. It may start a little earlier if I’m staying in a one-and-a-half star hotel in rural Saskatchewan (I probably should have just slept in the truck). We usually travel in groups of two, or multiples of two if we have a big area to cover.

Carissa Sideroff capturing Old Man on His Back with the Google Trekker. (Photo by NCC)

Carissa Sideroff capturing Old Man on His Back with the Google Trekker. (Photo by NCC)

Once we get out to the site, we begin to roam the property. If it is a conservation agreement property, we will walk around and take inventory on what species are present, compare the current state to what we had previously read in the baseline document and look to make sure the landowners are following the restrictions set out in the agreement. If NCC owns the property, we take an inventory and monitor any human or species activity.

Some days out in the field are longer than others; they range from eight to 15 hours, depending on what needs to be done on the property and how long we are in the area.

RB: Tell me about a time you consider to be your “best moment in science.” This could be a moment you discovered something in nature, a moment you saw a species or something you learned about yourself.

CS: My best moment in science is very hard to pinpoint, and probably will vary depending on what day you ask me. Today, I will talk about one of my favourite places I have been to during my career so far: Athabasca Falls, near Jasper, Alberta. If you‘ve been there, you will know what I’m talking about when I say it will make you appreciate the work Mother Nature puts in to create the beautiful landscapes we observe today.

It actually left me speechless to see what water could do to the surrounding rocks; the water was so persistent in creating the wonderful features that are forever engraved in my mind. You can see potholes created by the sheer forces of water carrying sediment. It also helps that there is a pretty mountain backdrop and the river is glacier fed, so the colour is awe-inspiring.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science and conservation?

CS: Currently, women are underrepresented in the sciences. I think it is important for women to be in conservation, if that is what they love and what they want to pursue a career in. Women can empower other women or young girls to follow their dreams. Younger girls can be easily influenced, so if they talk to women in the conservation field or see more women in the sciences, maybe it will flick a switch in their heads and let them know that they can pursue a career in this field.

RB: What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in the sciences or, more specifically, the conservation field?

CS: I would say don’t narrow your career path choices based upon circumstances in the field, and pick your career path based on your ability and interests. You could one day be the reason a little girl decided to follow her dreams and go into the sciences. We need to empower women, and we need girls to grow up and believe in themselves.

Carissa Sideroff (Photo by NCC)

Carissa Sideroff (Photo by NCC)

More specifically, looking at the conservation field, I would say to girls to not be afraid to get their hands dirty. Speaking from experience, you may not always look Instagram-ready at work, but it’s a very rewarding career choice. I think we need to start getting women to appreciate what the conservation field entails and how important it is.

There is only so much enjoyment you can get from sitting behind a computer and looking at pictures of nature. Get out there and go look at it for yourself. There is this feeling you get when looking at undisturbed native prairie. It just helps one realize that maybe it is the simpler things in life that bring true enjoyment and not the amount of material things you accumulate over the years. Money can’t buy experiences.

I think we need to make science cool again. I mean, I think science is cool.

If someone is looking to get into the conservation field I would tell them to get out in nature more. I feel like most people do not actually appreciate nature as much as they should, because they are not exposed to it. Start exposing young children to nature as soon as possible, and get them disconnected from their electronics so they too can appreciate nature.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo

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Women in conservation: Annie Ferland http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-annie-ferland/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-annie-ferland/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:31:31 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6443 By Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin.ca In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. When she was young, Annie Ferland spent her days exploring the island she […]

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By Raechel Bonomo
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin.ca

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

Annie Ferland with the Google trekker on Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, QC. (Photo by NCC)

Annie Ferland with the Google trekker on Alfred-Kelly Nature Reserve, QC. (Photo by NCC)

When she was young, Annie Ferland spent her days exploring the island she and her family lived on near Quebec City. Formerly a farm tended to by her grandfather, Annie would slip on her rubber boots and walk along the river with her dog in tow. This river was the same one her father played in when he was a child, but it looked much different then.

Growing up, Annie recalls the river being filled with litter of all shapes and sizes, from discarded wrappers, to old mattresses, to abandoned car parts. Her father would tell her tales of how he would spend his days fishing along the riverbank, but all Annie could see was the present-day, cloudy river filled with trash.

She kept thinking how nice it would be to go fishing without reeling in a boot or an old tire. Wondering how she could make an impact on this area helped fuel her desire to do more and help restore and conserve landscapes across Canada.

Read our interview with Annie below:

RB: What did you study in school and where?

AF: I studied at Cégep de Sainte-Foy in Quebec to become a biology technician, and after graduation I went on to study agricultural science at Laval University because, in addition to ecology and conservation, I’m also interested in sustainable farming practices.

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

Annie Ferland, project manager, Montreal and Basses-Laurentides (Photo by NCC)

Annie Ferland, project manager, Montreal and Basses-Laurentides (Photo by NCC)

AF: I worked as an intern with the Province of Quebec on a wood turtle conservation project. It involved going out to look for turtles in potential habitats in the field and some GIS [geographic information system] work to identify priority areas for conservation. Very similar to what I am doing now! The internship highlighted the urgency of protecting habitats to conserve wood turtles and other species across Canada.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

AF: A typical day takes place at the office, since there are a lot of things and people to coordinate. I usually work on three to five different projects at a time. The work involves a lot of fundraising and reporting, as well as communicating and meeting with various partners and landowners. I’m often on the road for off-site meetings, but sometimes I’m in the field doing various stewardship tasks, such as surveys and property monitoring.

RB: Tell me about a time you consider to be your “best moment in science.” This could be a moment you discovered something in nature, a moment you saw a species or something you learned about yourself.

AF: I would say that there are a lot of best moments. Meeting a species for the first time, such as a rare plant or animal, is always a highlight.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science and the conservation field?

AF: I would say it’s important for women to be in science, since it’s important for them to be able to access any profession they want. I think women bring as much to science as men do, but if science is accessible to a greater number of people it will accelerate the speed at which research is done and progress is made. We now live in a great time that allows women to do whatever they want.

RB: What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in the science or, more specifically, conservation field?

AF: Like any other field, dedication and focus are key. Don’t hesitate to take an entry-level job, as it’s often the best way to learn the basics and progress within an organization. Sometimes science can be very tedious, but don’t forget your curiosity and your creativity as they can be quite useful.

About the Author
Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo.

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Women in conservation: Megan Westphal http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-megan-westphal/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-megan-westphal/#comments Thu, 20 Apr 2017 15:19:16 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6439 April 19, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. Megan Westphal, assistant range biologist for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s […]

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April 19, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

megan_westphal

Megan Westphal, assistant range biologist, Manitoba Region

Megan Westphal, assistant range biologist for the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s (NCC’s) Manitoba Region, has come a long way from picking raspberries and building forts with her cousins on their grandparent’s farm while growing up.

Megan studied plant biology and physiology at the University of Winnipeg. She then continued her academic career at the University of Manitoba in the soil science department, where she recently completed a master’s of science degree in soil ecology, with a thesis on monitoring greenhouse gases.

Read our interview with Megan below:

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

MW: My first job in the environmental field was at the soil science department at the University of Manitoba. It was heavily agriculture-focused, but it has helped me understand the strong need for a connection between conservation and agriculture to provide food sustainably for our growing population.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

MW: A typical day at NCC for me changes depending on the season. During field season (late spring until early fall), a typical day would consist of prepping assessment sheets and planning the property to be surveyed. This can be really exciting, especially planning and discussing with other NCC staff about species you could potentially find on the property. While in the field, we will use GIS to survey the area for species and changes in the landscape and compile the notes taken during the day. During the winter, our days consist of mapping the areas that were surveyed during field season as well as report writing, but also regaling each other with tales of last season’s field days.

RB: Tell me about a time you consider to be your “best moment in science.” This could be a moment when you discovered something in nature, a moment when you saw a species or something you learned about yourself.

MW: My best moment in science would have to be during the 2016 field season, working at the Ellice Archie Community pasture, when I found a soil profile with freshwater seep coming out at the top of a valley. All my knowledge of soil classification came rushing to my head. I began asking myself about the reddish-orange spots in the soil, which led me to wonder if it was a gleysol soil or some sort of iron-loving bacteria. Being able to share my knowledge of soils and soil processes has been pretty great.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science?

MW: It’s important for women to be in science because it’s important to have as many different perspectives as possible to fully understand all possible aspects of an issue, species or area in order to find the best solution.

RB: What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in the science or, more specifically, the conservation field?

MW: Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you have any ideas or opinions about a project, voice them. I still have trouble with this. Though they may not always be the best idea for the task at hand, your suggestions may help initiate other ideas to help solve the problem.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo.

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Women in conservation: Mhairi McFarlane http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-mhairi-mcfarlane/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-mhairi-mcfarlane/#comments Wed, 05 Apr 2017 18:07:50 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6317 April 5, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. For Mhairi McFarlane, her love for landscapes began across the pond. […]

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April 5, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

For Mhairi McFarlane, her love for landscapes began across the pond. She and her family would take long trips driving from Scotland to England, and to pass the time Mhairi would flip through her parents’ identification guides. She began to memorize the intricate diagrams adorning the tattered pages and was able to spot species in the wild. Her favourite of the bunch was the book on birds, sparking her lifelong interest in species of the United Kingdom and those here in Canada, where she currently resides and works for NCC.

Read our interview with Mhairi here:

Mhairi McFarlane, conservation science for Ontario, capturing the Lake Erie watersnake on film, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Mhairi McFarlane, conservation science for Ontario, capturing the Lake Erie watersnake on film, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

RB: What did you study in school and where?

MM: I did an honour’s ecology degree at the University of Stirling in Scotland and my PhD at the University of Exeter, England, where I studied the behavioural ecology of Cape sugarbirds in South Africa.

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

MM: My first real-life experience in this field was a three-week volunteer position at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Loch of Strathbeg Nature Reserve in Scotland. Grassland, or “farmland,” birds are declining in the UK, so many nature reserves use traditional farming practices to manage wet grasslands. I helped out with counting cattle and sheep to ensure that stocking rates were just right for the birds. It was one of my earlier direct experiences of the importance of habitat management and its effect on various species.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

MM: Much of my days at NCC now involve processing emails. It may not sound very exciting, but it is very satisfying being able to learn more and more about what NCC does throughout Ontario and across Canada, and to be able to share my experiences to help further our conservation work.

Mhairi McFarlane (Photo by NCC)

Mhairi McFarlane (Photo by NCC)

RB: Tell me about a time you consider to be your “best moment in science.” This could be a moment you discovered something in nature, a moment you saw a species or something you learned about yourself.

MM: My favourite part of working with NCC is being able to see the results of our combined efforts on the ground. I have led or helped out with the restoration of former agricultural land on Pelee Island in Ontario for several years now, and watching monarch butterflies and thousands of bees flitting among the native flowers on the property I helped plant seeds on the previous year is an unbeatable feeling.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science?

MM: Different people from different backgrounds and different places all have important things to bring to a given conservation challenge; the same is true of men and women.

What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in the science or, more specifically, the conservation field?

Work hard, take every opportunity available to you and try to create some opportunities for yourself as well. Learn how to sell your skills and strengths. Never assume that if you don’t understand or can’t do something it’s because you lack a skill or have a weakness. Ask questions, and work out how best to achieve whatever it is. I have found that many of the things I have been unable to do were because the instructions were vague or incomplete, so I’ve often tried to take the opportunity to fix the underlying problem.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Read more about Raechel Bonomo.

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Women in conservation: Julie Vasseur http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-julie-vasseur/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-julie-vasseur/#comments Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:49:40 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6184 By Raechel Bonomo The Nature Conservancy of Canada Special to WorkCabin.ca In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. Julie Vasseur’s life-long love for nature stemmed from a childhood immersed in Canada’s […]

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By Raechel Bonomo
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
Special to WorkCabin.ca

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re celebrating eight female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

Julie Vasseur’s life-long love for nature stemmed from a childhood immersed in Canada’s great outdoors. Passed down from her nature-loving dad, Julie was exposed to adventures, camping and exploring at a young age.

But what really got her hooked on conservation was a family trip to Forillon National Park in Quebec. It was there that Julie and her sister saw whales breaching in the Atlantic Ocean, igniting a flame in her to pursue a career in wildlife biology.

As NCC’s program director for Prince Edward Island, Julie gets to see all sorts of critters while out on NCC’s properties. Although they may not be as large as whales, their impact on conservation — and on Julie — is just as huge.

Read my interview with Julie below:

Julie Vasseur (Photo by NCC)

Julie Vasseur (Photo by NCC)

RB: What did you study in school and where?

JV: I have a bachelors of science in biology from Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick (when I graduated, it was called Atlantic Baptist University), and a diploma in wildlife conservation technology from Holland College in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

JV: My first job in the conservation field was actually as a conservation intern for NCC! I was hired for the summer of 2011 to monitor NCC nature reserves across New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The internship began right after I graduated from Holland College, so it was great to be able to apply those skills immediately into the workforce — it really helped enforce the knowledge I had picked up at school.

Julie Vasseur, NCC Program Director, PEI

I learned a lot over those four months at NCC — working independently, working in a busy, non-profit environment (where people will help you if you ask!), time management, office administration, applied conservation science…you name it, I learned it. I was a bit of a late bloomer in the field, having only gotten my first conservation job at 25, so I recall being very eager to catch up and absorb as much as I could to prove myself.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

JV: My office work and my field work are very different; my main tasks are to track down securement opportunities on Prince Edward Island and then facilitate the acquisition process from beginning to end. This generally includes daily conversations with external contractors (lawyers, appraisers, surveyors, etc.) and troubleshooting any problems that may arise. When I’m not doing that, I’m juggling a variety of tasks from all different NCC departments (science, Stewardship, outreach, development, communications). I’m the only staff person on the Island so I’ve learned to wear different hats well.

In the field season, I make a point of visiting our nature reserves even though it’s hard to get away from the office. In addition to the energy boost I get from being outside in nature, there’s something very fulfilling about going to a natural area that you’ve helped conserve and knowing that it will stay that way. I’ll work away at actions that we need completed on the particular reserve (cleaning up garbage, installing a sign, etc.) and keep my eyes and ears open for any species that we may not have already recorded for the property.

NCC's Julie Vasseur records tree species in a quadrant of Holman's Island, PEI. (Photo by Sean Landsman)

NCC’s Julie Vasseur records tree species in a quadrant of Holman’s Island, PEI. (Photo by Sean Landsman)

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science and conservation?

JV: We sabotage ourselves by only considering the knowledge and perspective of 50 per cent of the scientific population, especially in a field that is supposed to be objective. Although this was much more prevalent in past decades, it’s by no means eliminated as a social issue.

We delay our own scientific progress when we discourage anyone from pursuing academic research and study.

RB: What advice do you have for women looking to make a career in the sciences or, more specifically, the conservation field?

JV: Take initiative. Work the extra hours and try doing that task you’ve never done before. Leave your comfort zone.

If you get an internship, you’re not “just an intern,” so don’t consider yourself that way. Volunteer to do things above your pay grade and job title, especially if you know you have the skills to do them.

Pay attention and listen to everything.

Take that contract across the country. Don’t expect a full-time job right out of school, especially in conservation.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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Women in conservation: Kathryn Folkl http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-kathryn-folkl/ http://www.workcabin.ca/women-in-conservation-kathryn-folkl/#comments Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:31:42 +0000 http://www.workcabin.ca/?p=6126 March 8, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo Special to WorkCabin.ca In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), this month we’re celebrating female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes. Growing up on the rocky shores of Lake St. Clair in southwestern Ontario, Kathryn Folkl […]

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March 8, 2017 | by Raechel Bonomo
Special to WorkCabin.ca

Kathryn Folkl (Photo by NCC)

Kathryn Folkl (Photo by NCC)

In honour of International Women’s Day (March 8), this month we’re celebrating female conservationists at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) who are working to create a stronger future for Canada’s landscapes.

Growing up on the rocky shores of Lake St. Clair in southwestern Ontario, Kathryn Folkl has been immersed in nature her entire life. From the swarms of burrowing mayflies under every lamp post on the suburban streets near her childhood home, to her current position as NCC’s national manager of the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA) program, she’s been drawn to nature, much like the familiar bug from her past to a bright light.

Kathryn Folkl (Photo courtesy Kathryn Folkl)

Kathryn Folkl (Photo courtesy Kathryn Folkl)

Her academic career began in the environmental science program at the University of Guelph. After a quick detour into the fine arts (acting) program at the University of Windsor, she was back on the environmental track, eventually leading her to a master’s degree in plant ecology from the university where her academic journey first began.

Read my interview with Kathryn below:

RB: What is one of your first memories of nature?

KF: One of my first memories of nature was the sound of burrowing mayflies, commonly referred to as fishflies, crunching under my feet as I made my way to my school bus stop as May turned into June each year. I remember the cracking of their bodies and wings as my brother and I would try (unsuccessfully) to leap over the masses of bugs covering the road around the street lights.

RB: What was your first job in the environmental/conservation/science field? What did you learn in this position that has helped you now?

KF: My first job in science was as a bug counter. I spent many, many days inside a lab staring through a microscope, attempting to identify different species of aquatic invertebrates by their mouthparts. Chironomids are important as indicator organisms for pollution. The bug larvae I identified and counted were collected in wetlands near the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta. Not only were they somewhat terrifying to look at when magnified, they were also often covered in sticky tar, which made holding them with dissecting forceps challenging and identifying them sometimes impossible. After my first week, I would close my eyes at night and see chironomids floating through my dreams.

This position was my first introduction to sample size, the hands-on scientific method and how the collection of information really can impact your interpretation of the science results. As a result of this experience, I now look closely at the data collected by NCC and other organizations to see whether it will actually answer the questions we’re posing.

RB: Describe a typical day at NCC for you.

KF: I have one of two typical days: I’m either in an office staring at a computer screen with way too many tabs open, trying to ensure the pieces of land we’re securing meet both our conservation objectives and the broader continental conservation objectives for migratory species, or I’m at a meeting with external partners: leaders in conservation in government, industry and non-profits both across Canada and in the broader North American context, where I’m distilling the latest information on partnership opportunities to coordinate conservation efforts.

Kathryn Folkl rock climbing (Photo courtesy Kathryn Folkl)

Kathryn Folkl rock climbing (Photo courtesy Kathryn Folkl)

RB: What do you consider your “best moment in science”?

KF: My best moment in science occurred when I was completing my master’s degree. I got to answer a question that really mattered to me, and it solidified the value of applied science.

You see, I was a rock climber, and recently published research had indicated that rock climbers were negatively impacting plants on the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment, where I frequently climbed. As both a scientist and a climber, I looked quite critically at the primary literature to see how researchers had answered the question, “Does rock climbing impact vegetation on such and such cliff?” and was surprised when I saw how the question was being answered.

In various ways, researchers had statistically compared pristine cliffs to climbed cliffs and come to the conclusion that fewer and/or different species of plants were found on the climbed cliffs and attributed this difference to climbing disturbance. As a plant ecologist and a climber, I knew that other factors could impact a plant’s “choice” to be on one cliff versus another and, in fact, impacted a climber’s choice to be on one cliff or another. These factors hadn’t been included in the research.

Therefore, I designed my own study to answer the question, “What is the relative impact of microsite heterogeneity (the ledges, pockets, slope, aspect, etc.) of the cliff versus the presence of climbing on cliff-face vegetation?” and got a more complete answer. My research confirmed that fewer plants were growing on the climbed cliffs when compared with pristine cliffs, but also showed that this was not related to a climbing disturbance. Rather, climbers selected cliffs to climb that naturally supported different and less vegetation as a result of the physical characteristics of the cliff.

RB: Why is it important for women to be in science?

Science is how people understand and relate to the world around them. To be a leader, of any gender, in any number of fields, we have to understand how to ask a question, critically analyze the information available and synthesize an answer. Science teaches us how to be the experts, and to rely on our own critical thinking skills. It’s through science that we can ask the questions that we want the answers to, and challenge information we feel is incorrect.

RB: What advice do you have for women wanting a career in the science or, more specifically, the conservation field?

KF: I would advise women interested in the conservation field to do two things: (1) learn critical thinking skills; and (2) speak up! Conservationists tend to be introverts, preferring to commune with nature or with like-minded folks who share our wonder of the natural world. But we need to change the thinking of a broader audience to really achieve our goal of conservation. And that means sometimes having more challenging conversations. If you can understand the research, you should be a spokesperson for nature.

About the Author

Raechel Bonomo is the editorial coordinator at the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

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