Today we are welcoming Paul, an Environmental Biologist who currently works in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the blog. Paul was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about what he does and how he came to be an Environmental Biologist. He has had the chance to work in some amazingly diverse habitats, doing a wide variety of studies. Read on to learn more about his work and some of his fantastic experiences out in the field.
Could you give us a brief description of your job and the type of work you preform most often?
I am an Environmental Biologist and Project Manager focusing on environmental impact assessments related to new development and construction projects. Much of this work entails fish and wildlife surveys, wetland delineation and characterization, restoration of ecosystems, natural heritage and resource management planning, and species at risk studies. I provide advice to clients on how to develop their projects in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive manner, following all required government regulations.
What inspired you to work in an environmental field?
My love of nature, along with my desire to have career that helped protect the environment, make a positive difference, and allow me to work outdoors at times.
Bird nest identification and protection work for pipeline project in southwestern Quebec
What type of educational background is necessary to work in your field?
Wide range of educational paths, but the most important skill sets and training include: biology, chemistry, natural sciences, and public policy. There are in increasing number of college and university programs being offered today that aim to combine these skills sets and apply them to environment-related issues.
Can you tell us about the most amazing, or crazy, nature moment you have had on the job?
In 2012, I spent a week in rural Newfoundland conducting owl and nocturnal species studies at a remote satellite and radar station owned by the federal government. Guided only by flashlight, a GPS unit, and our hearing (which was significantly compromised by frog calls), we traversed the study area and identified animal species in huge open bogs, wetlands and dense forests in rubber boots and rain suits. At dawn one morning, while silently sitting down and taking a break at the edge of a forest, a large female moose appeared within 6-7 metres of us, stared at us for approximately 10 seconds (although it seemed like several minutes), and turned and disappeared into the thick forest.
Red Fox – 250 km north of Yellowknife, NWT during water quality monitoring study
When we return from a hike we often come home with pockets full of treasures. Have you found anything in particular while out in the field that you would consider a prize nature find?
I love classic cars, and have found many old hub caps that I’ve taken home. The best treasure I found was a rotted out late 1940’s Ford Sportsman car that I was able to salvage the steering wheel from. I am always amazed by how often I find old cars buried under vegetation, deep in the forest, as if they had fallen out of the sky.
What do you like best about your work?
The natural world is dynamic and ever changing, with incredible beauty and variety, making almost every work day different and challenging. Ultimately, I love knowing that my day to day efforts at work are, at the very least, making a small and positive difference in the world.
Frog population study during wildlife surveys in northeastern Alberta
If a young person were thinking of going into your field what advice would you have for them?
As mentioned previously, there are a wide range of opportunities and options in the environmental field, and many career paths to take. I would recommend taking a generalist approach to your studies initially, and as your knowledge and experience base develops, and individual strengths and interests begin to refine themselves, narrow down and specialize in at least one area. Given the dynamic, complex and broad scope of environmental work, the generalist background compliments a specialist or expert skill area very well.
Do you have any childhood experiences in nature that made a lasting impression?
Growing up in a rural setting with much of my time spent with friends and family fishing, hiking, and playing in the woods. At a very young age, I was also exposed to outdoor farm work, primarily on fruit farms, and understood the enjoyment and value of working outside and in all types of weather and conditions. Family camping trips every summer throughout the Maritimes and northeastern United States were also very formative experiences.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania trek in 2013
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Paul.
It sounds like you have had some amazing experiences out in the field. We really appreciate your sharing and giving insight to others interested in your work and learning more about it as a possible career path.
If you or someone you know works in a nature related field and would like to be interviewed please send us an email at kidsandnature (at) gmail (dot) com.