Brandi Bartha, Nicole Steenveld, Garret Doll, Jackson Woren and Farron Bibby spent their summer learning first-hand about their chosen career fields, while gaining practical experience in environmental monitoring. As any summer student can attest to, gaining real world experience is the number one desired outcome at the end of a work term. However, if you can do that plus go on a helicopter ride over the Rocky Mountains and see rare wildlife in their natural environment, your summer work term could definitely be considered a success.
Not only did Brandi get to fly through the Rocky Mountains in a helicopter, it was her first day on the job. When it came to real world experience, Brandi got a full dose. An environmental sciences major, Brandi worked as a Water Monitoring Technician at AEMERA to help diversify her academic background in wildlife and fisheries conservation. Some of her responsibilities included calculating water levels and flow measurements, recharging rain gauges, checking over survey notes and constructing or repairing equipment.
“Monitoring, evaluating, and reporting accurate and unbiased data is crucial in managing resources,” she says. “Being able to apply first-hand experience to what I have learned in school makes it a lot easier to understand why things are done a certain way and what the numbers mean.”
Environmental Monitoring and Science (formerly AEMERA) offers summer positions in all areas of its business. Nicole, a commerce student from Grant McEwan University, jumped at the opportunity to put her accounting skills to use while also learning about a variety of other fields. In between finance projects, she updated air, water and biodiversity reports for oil sands projects and spent a great deal of time researching species at risk in Alberta. The highlight of Nicole’s summer internship was working on such a wide variety of tasks, and gaining insight and guidance from people with experience in the fields she’s interested in.
This summer, Garret worked as a Hydrometric Technologist, collecting water data, surveying lake levels and volumetric fluid flow in rivers and tributaries. As a mining engineering student, Garret will translate the sampling techniques and data collection technologies he learned into the industry of minerals exploration – a sector he hopes to pursue in the future. The fondest memory from his work experience was spending time near beautiful rivers and lakes and getting the chance to visit small towns that he would otherwise never have had the opportunity to see. Garret also got to take a scenic helicopter ride to Lake Southesk nestled in the Rocky Mountains, to do maintenance on the Southesk meteorological station.
As a recent biological sciences grad, Jackson wanted to work with groundwater monitoring team for the opportunity to become part of something that he personally believes is necessary to protect the state of the environment. Another important aspect of environmental monitoring is to collect data on the province’s groundwater. This summer, Jackson was responsible for collecting water quality data from 40 wells located throughout Edmonton and northeast areas of Alberta.
The biggest takeaway Jackson has from his summer work experience is to be open to different ways of accomplishing tasks, including having to think quickly on your feet to resolve a problem. When tasked with figuring out a way to extract and collect gas from well water without having it contaminated with ambient air, he worked with his team to come up with a solution that can be used throughout the province. And when a fierce Alberta storm was quickly approaching on a sample site, Jackson and his team worked even quicker to disassemble, pack up and load the trailer, keeping all their samples intact, while getting drenched by the rain. Just another day’s work in the field!
Farron has always been interested in environmental work, and living in Alberta she knows there is ample opportunity to help restore some of the balance that has shifted due to development.
“It’s an exciting time to be here,” says Farron, a biological sciences grad. As the switch over from Alberta Environment is almost complete, she admires the transparency-driven attitude of the organization to make information readily available to the general public.
Throughout her time as a summer student, Farron was responsible for managing the National Air Pollution Surveillance program and reporting back to Environment Canada with samples taken from around the city. But much like her peers, what Farron most enjoyed was the variety of her work at AEMERA. She accompanied an emergency response trip to High Level in northern Alberta to deploy several portable air monitoring devices during the height of forest fire season. “It was a hectic two days with lots of hours worked, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
The Environmental Monitoring and Science Division offers co-op positions year-round, providing students with the opportunity to gain career-related experience, build long lasting business relationships from our team of professionals, and complete meaningful projects that have a positive environmental impact in Alberta.