I recently graduated with a master’s in Natural Resources Management from the University of Manitoba. My research thesis titled Survival of chestnut-collared longspurs (Calcarius ornatus) and Baird’s sparrows (Centronyx bairdii) on the breeding grounds in southeastern Alberta investigated the effects of oil wells and the associated noise from oil extraction on the survival of these two songbird species.
I only discovered Natural Resources Management as a program the year I started my degree. I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree but to say I planned things to go as they did would be quite an exaggeration. It was one of those serendipitous moments that happen every so often presenting you with an opportunity you just can’t ignore. I never intended to spend three summers in south-eastern Alberta researching the effects of oil wells on songbird species in the area but somehow I did and was then able to open many doors in my career because of it.
Not only did the experience help me professionally, but personally as well. I came to better understand the relationships that exist between humans and nature, their complexities and the intersectionality of current environmental issues. During my time as a master’s student, I learned about wildlife and anthropogenic (human) effects on the environment in Alberta and in Manitoba where I lived during the regular school year.
In 2019, I obtained an internship at the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in the Conservation and Research Department. During my year in this position, I worked with a wide range of species from critically endangered, Poweshiek skipperling (a butterfly) to polar bears. The projects I worked on highlighted the importance of local conservation.
One of the projects I took lead on included monitoring buildings for bird-window collisions which cause millions of fatalities each year in North America. Understanding that conservation needs to occur at both a global and local scale was an important part in my early career development. I’ve learned and put into practice, that conservation is multi-faceted and that creating community around a cause will result in more progress than going at something alone.
BCS helped to foster my sense of community which continues to be a value in my personal and professional life. When you understand the part you play within a group, it holds you accountable and responsible for supporting your peers, friends, or co-workers. Responsibility that I first practiced and fostered at BCS has led me to jobs during my undergraduate degree and to leading my field crew for my own research project. I have taken the values that BCS taught me during my six years at the school and directed them towards some of the most important, current issues of our time – the biodiversity and climate crises.
To be honest, not all of the work I’ve done in my career so far has felt fulfilling or been inspirational. More often than not you have to work with the cards you’ve been dealt while pursuing what you feel is the right path. My work ethic, adaptability, and somewhat insatiable curiosity have helped me find and obtain opportunities that I never thought would be possible. From volunteering in northern Alaska to presenting at international academic conferences, to releasing critically endangered butterflies into the last remaining tallgrass prairie habitat. There were so many people at BCS who encouraged me, who supported my ambition and helped me to get to where I am today.
My recent professional experiences have included working as a wildlife technician for the federal government with Environment and Climate Change Canada and obtaining independent contracts for work with The Nature Conservancy of Canada. I’m currently beginning work as a Junior Ecologist and hope to continue to volunteer in my local community helping the environment and wildlife.