The kinds of challenges we are facing as a global community can only be resolved if we start looking at and dealing with them holistically. The greatest strength of the Natural Resources Conservation (NRC) program is that it is truly interdisciplinary.
My degree in NRC has opened a wide array of doors for me. I have worked in conjunction with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the US National Marine Fisheries Service, and have volunteered in conjunction with the Canadian International Development Agency. These jobs have had me working with landowners to conserve wetlands; backpacking in the Alaskan wilderness studying coyotes, Dall sheep, and small mammals; studying commercial fisheries in the middle of the Bering Sea; backpacking in the rainforest in South America. I’m currently working towards a PhD in theoretical ecology at McMaster University. My degree in NRC has provided an enormous amount of flexibility in my life, which I have been whole-heartedly taking advantage of.
I currently work as a Biologist with BC Hydro’s Generation Environmental Department. I work on a variety of projects, mostly involving fish and the related impacts of hydroelectric facilities. Day to day work includes water quality analysis, habitat surveys, fish sampling, and analysis of biological data. I also spend a great deal of time with engineers assessing the environmental impacts of proposed hydro facility maintenance and upgrades.
The NRC program provided a broad environmental background that has proven ideal for my job at BC Hydro. NRC courses provided the basics of forest, fish, and wildlife ecology, all of which provided me with a great environmental knowledge base. The CONS 451 course allowed me to develop my field skills that are essential for entry-level biological technician jobs. The industry presentations during this course also provide a real-world glimpse of where the NRC program can take you in industry. Resource-based companies are increasingly scrutinized for environmental practices and the NRC program is a great source for well rounded environmental staff.
The NRC program exposes students to a wide range of disciplines, and thus provides a unique opportunity for learning and discovery. I was attracted to the program because of the mix of natural and social sciences. I believe that an understanding of the human element is essential for achieving conservation. The program helped me develop a broad foundation, on which I could acquire more specific skills for a career in conservation biology. After the program, I completed a Masters in wildlife management at the University of Alberta, studying mountain caribou habitat requirements. I was then hired as a Species at Risk Biologist with the Alberta Government. Through this position, I have undertaken a wide range of projects, such as monitoring the status of rare butterfly populations and associated native prairie. I have always maintained an interest in the social side of conservation, and incorporate the diverse array of experiences from the NRC program into my current position.
When deciding where to attend university and what to study, I was immediately drawn to the natural resources conservation program. Over the course of the program, I enjoyed a range of classroom and field experiences that more than lived up to my expectations. Studying in the Faculty of Forestry also gave me an opportunity to become involved in fieldwork at the Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, both as an assistant to a PhD student and on my own project. My experiences in the NRC program led me to pursue further education at the University of Oxford, where I completed an MSc under the theme of Nature, Society, and Environmental Policy.
I now work for a small consulting firm based in the UK, where I coordinate the UK Government’s Central Point for Expertise on Timber procurement. On a day to day basis, I advise the Government and their suppliers on how to purchase timber and timber products that meet the UK’s policy for legal and sustainable sources. I am also involved in the wider policy debate and interact with forest certification schemes, NGOs, other Governments, and the EC’s work on illegal logging.
The NRC program provided me with the practical skills (such as speaking, presenting, report writing and IT) as well as the knowledge and experience to undertake a career in this field. The NRC programme also provided me with the context of environmental, social, and economic issues to help me understand the complexities involved with forest management and conservation.
“I chose the NRC program for its interdisciplinary focus on environment and conservation. Although it seemed like an odd arrangement, the location of the NRC program within the Faculty of Forestry at UBC provided me with a valuable understanding of the juxtaposition of environment and business within the resource economy of BC. I now work in environmental consulting, and the most valuable aspects of my NRC education are the applied skills I learned through field school, labs and summer forestry work”
Erin Embley BSc.(NRC), MSc. – Class of 1999
Environmental Planner, Pottinger Gaherty Environmental Consultants Ltd.
“As a Co-op student in the NRC program, I gained valuable experience as a research assistant in both academic and industrial sectors and as an intern in the corporate sustainability division of BC Hydro. Through these positions, I developed a strong background in research that prepared me for grad school, and established industry connections that will allow me to secure relevant employment…”
Megan Harrison BSc. (NRC – Gold Medalist) – Class of 2006
M.Sc. Candidate, Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
“… I work closely with the Urban Forestry and Environmental Services (UFES) section of the Parks Division to help them manage their…. program. My NRC background allows me to understand the needs of the UFES section and to contribute greatly in developing programs that will help protect the City’s natural resources.”
Neal Aven BSc.(NRC) – Class of 2000
Computer Software Implementation, City of Surrey Parks Division