I attended the Environmental Studies undergrad Program (co-op) at the University of Ottawa when it first became available. What I enjoyed the most about the program is being able to take many courses that focused on northern geography and environmental issues. The co-op program proved to be the most beneficial to me. While some of the jobs may not have been as challenging as I had hoped, each and every opportunity allowed me to build my network of contacts in the environmental field. It is as a direct result of this network that I was able to secure a position in the federal government. Once I found a permanent position, I then pursued the course-based Masters in Geography which allowed me to pursue my degree while working full-time. Although some may criticize this type of Masters (due to its course-based nature), it was perfect for me considering the type of work I wanted to do in the future (policy and program implementation rather than scientific research). I was able to strengthen my research skills and deepen my knowledge of environmental issues that I was already working on or that I was most interested about.
To date, my career in the federal public service has included policy and program development as well as in-the-field, on-the-ground, hands-on experience. My experience has included working for:
- the Department of National Defence working on policies and programs related to natural resources management (forest/wildlife/species at risk/invasive species), environment/health and safety, Environmental Management Systems, and Sustainable Development Strategies. I was also exposed to many other environmental programs such as contaminated sites, climate change, hazardous materials management;
- the Department of Fisheries and Oceans working on Marine Protected Areas and conservation initiatives in the marine environment;
- the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs working for the Northern Affairs Program on the Northwest Territories Protected Areas Strategy, northern environmental monitoring programs such as the Northwest Territories Cumulative Impact Monitoring Program and the Nunavut General Monitoring Plan.
No matter what department I've worked for or program I've worked on, the opportunities to network and to work with other levels of government, non-government organizations, Aboriginal groups, have been numerous.