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Environmental Field Skills Program NA-2024-01-B

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This optional Welcome Session will help orient you to the course, and give you a chance to meet your instructors and classmates. Don’t worry if you miss it – the recording will be posted here shortly after the session.

Description

NRTG’s Environmental Field Skills program is a curriculum designed to provide those people wishing to begin working in the environmental field the necessary skills to enter this workforce. The knowledge and skills presented here are those used in a wide variety of environmental disciplines, from vegetation studies to fish to wildlife to environmental monitoring, and are intended to provide you, the student, with a broad understanding of how to measure, monitor, and record environmental conditions. 

This course, offered through Career Choice, is a 120-hour training program spread over 10 weeks. Through these 10 weeks, students will spend about one third of the time in on-line learning, one third on field activities, and one third live with an instructor. Upon completion, the student will be familiar with the basic tools and techniques commonly used in the environmental field and so have a solid base from which to explore and learn more sophisticated methods. The skills and techniques learned here are those wanted by employers for field workers in the environmental disciplines.

“I am writing to, first, thank you for introducing me to this course. I really appreciate everything that NRTG has to offer. Before this course, I was very nervous and a little shy. I couldn’t tell you how far distances from point “a” to point “b” were. I never knew what a clinometer was? This was all new to me. I felt like I was learning a whole new language. After two weeks I was more outgoing, was able to ask questions, and felt more confident and comfortable using these tools and techniques out in the field. I still have room to grow and learn. But I know the more practice I have, the more comfortable I will feel with these tools.”

Jenna Melanson, Nova Scotia, Canada

Objectives

Upon successful completion of this program the student will know how to, and have some experience, with: 

  • Working safely in the field, 
  • Observing and recording environmental field data, 
  • Standard field methods for environmental assessments of vegetation, fish, and wildlife, 
  • Identifying and classifying soils, vegetation, wildlife, and fish, 
  • Identifying and interpreting environmental field conditions, and 
  • Monitoring construction sites, including erosion and sediment control 

The Amazon Career Choice Environmental Field Skills program includes free lifetime admission. Enroll once – come back anytime. This is a great way to upgrade your skills and remain current. 

Equipment

The Career Choice delivery of Environmental Field Skills has been designed to minimize the equipment needed by the student. Required equipment includes:

  • A pencil(s) and notebook for recording field notes 
  • A measuring tape of some form; the longer the better 
  • Appropriate clothing and footwear to be outside for several hours at a time in your area 
  • A cellular phone which will be used as a camera and possibly with tool-specific apps. 

Prerequisites

  • There are no prerequisites for the Environmental Field Skills program.

Course FAQs

Requirements for Successful Program Completion

To successfully complete the Amazon Career Choice Environmental Field Skills Program, the student must complete all of the weekly online modules.

Completion of the online modules will allow you to receive certification. But to get the most from this training, and set yourself up best for seeking employment afterward, we strongly recommend you complete as many of the field assignments as you can and also attend the live sessions. 

Field Assignments

These assignments are optional for students to complete and they are not graded.

There are four field assignments assigned through the program, in Weeks 2, 4, 6, and 8. These assignments are composed of a series of exercises elaborating upon and reinforcing skills and concepts from the online material. They are intended for those students that wish to develop a deeper understanding and practice with the skills discussed in the course. Each assignment is submitted to NRTG and the student will be provided comments back on their completion of the exercises and suggestions for improvement. These comments come from working professionals very familiar with current requirements in the workforce. This is your opportunity to practice your skills and receive feedback on how to improve in order to impress a future employer.

Live Sessions

Twice each week during the duration of the program there are scheduled live sessions. In these two instructors will provide you additional information to that presented online in order to give you more tools and skills than what you see online. These live sessions are also for you to bring questions about anything environmental work or Environmental Field Skills course related. The sessions give you access to several working professionals who may then be able to help you when it comes time to look for work. We strongly urge you to attend these sessions not only to ensure complete understanding of the material but also to network and make connections with instructors deeply embedded in the environmental world. 

In addition, once each week of Weeks 2 to 7 there will be a Question-and Answer session in which you can drop in and ask an instructor any questions or just discuss environmental work and course material. During Weeks 8-10 these Q&A sessions are replaced with instruction sessions on resume writing and job search strategies. 

The schedule for these activities is outlined below. Click ‘Course Schedule’ to view.

Alan McNeill

For 25 years I have been working in fisheries management within Nova Scotia, specializing in freshwater species. My primary interests have been population abundance for various finfish species in streams and lakes, habitat assessment for salmonids, creel and angler surveys, promoting sportfishing, practicing aquaculture, and regulation development. I have a BSc. (Honours, Marine Biology) from the University of Guelph (ON) and several technical certifications including Certified Electrofishing Crew Leader, Seafarers and Wilderness First Aid, Swiftwater Safety Technician, SCUBA diver, Marine Emergency Duty, Coastal Navigation, Certified Installer for Watercourse Alterations.

In my career I have worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Until I recently retired I was Director of the Inland Fisheries Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I am also Past President of the Atlantic International Chapter of the American Fisheries Society and recipient of the Premiers Award of Excellence in 2007 for my work on the Environmental Monitoring Program for Marine Aquaculture.

Charity Blaney

I have a Master’s degree in wildlife ecology, a Bachelor’s (with honours) in environmental science and biology, and a college diploma in environmental science. In addition to these I have five years experience in invasive species and vegetation management, and four years experience with wildlife surveys and wetland habitat monitoring. My interest in plants and plant ecology has given me opportunities to teach ecology labs at the University of Calgary and botany and forest ecology at Northern Lights College; these opportunities have also extended internationally, taking me into the remote rainforest of Brazil to study epiphytic plants. I am, however, also very interested in wildlife; indeed my Master’s research was on long-toed salamanders in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta.

Colleen Ross

I am an outdoor enthusiast and consultant in fire ecology.  I started my fire journey at a young age, burning fields for optimal grazing on the family farm.  My interest in fire continued as I worked in wildfire management and fire ecology positions across western North America and completing a Master in Fire Ecology and Management.  With over two decades in wildfire/forestry related jobs, I continue to work with and learn from the greatest element on earth.  

Dave Evans

I am an Aquatic Specialist and Project Manager with over 25 years of experience in fisheries and aquatic resources as a technician, instructor, consultant and regulator. I have extensive experience conducting and overseeing fish habitat and inventory studies as well as environmental impact assessments in western Canada as has also completed aquatic studies in the US Pacific Northwest and northern Canada. I have provided project management, planning, and permitting expertise to numerous projects in transportation, infrastructure, oil and gas and government sectors, to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and industry best management practices while also providing practical, cost-effective solutions for clients. I am currently working on several watershed restoration plans focusing on species at risk in the east slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains including aquatic habitat restoration and monitoring, water quality improvement, fish relocation and spawning habitat enhancement. 

I am living in the Crowsnest Pass in southwest Alberta and when I’m not working, I can be found on one of the local creeks fishing, snorkeling or just enjoying the view. 

Gwen Schroeder

Over the past 10 years I have progressed through the fisheries industry from a deck hand on a commercial fishing vessel to running sampling and monitoring programs on BC’s coast. I am now residing with NRTG as program manager. I am able to bring my academic study of ecosystems and biology and my real-world experience in management and Canada’s aquatic industry to manage the delivery of our aquatic courses. 

I bring my passion for aquatics into my daily life with hobbies of surfing, beach walks with my dogs, snorkeling in the ocean and rivers and admiring all the life found in the tidepools of the west coast. 

Jason Cote

Jeff Sereda

I am currently a Senior Habitat and Population Ecologist with the Saskatchewan Government and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saskatchewan where I lecture on fish physiology, taxonomy, ecology, conservation, and aquaculture. I hold a PhD. and my research in university and with the Saskatchewan government has included topics such as assessing the risk of lakes to anthropogenic eutrophication, macrophyte management, fish habitat restoration, and the impacts of water management on species as risk (Bigmouth Buffalo, Chestnut Lamprey, Mountain Sucker, and Lake Sturgeon). My research has been presented at over 60 national and international conferences and resulted in 15 peer reviewed publications.

Jennifer Dyson

I have been working as a terrestrial ecologist since 2009, with a passion for botany in both the private and public sectors; I am especially interested in restoration of terrestrial habitats and invasive species management. My formal training is from Cape Breton University (NS), Western University (ON), and the Royal Botanical Gardens (ON) and I have worked in Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Manitoba. In addition to my field work, I also have years of experience with policy analysis, Endangered Species Act permitting, development impacts evaluation, report writing, and project management. I believe in continuing education and training and through this have been trained in wetland evaluation and have become an ISA Certified Arborist.

Kate Keenan

I began my unofficial education of the natural sciences while growing up in the Kawartha Lakes, Ontario. I am now formally trained as an Aquatic Ecologist, with a specialization in mountain limnology, and have more than a decade of diverse work experience with non-profit organizations, academia, and the Canadian federal government. I thrive in a fieldwork setting, where I focus on water quality sampling, benthic invertebrate surveying, and native fish monitoring. 

I currently call Canmore, Alberta home and spend my spare time exploring the Canadian Rockies either on foot or by gravel bike. 

Kris Hunter

I am currently the Regional Director for the Wild Salmon Watersheds program and Director of Programs (Prince Edward Island) of the Atlantic Salmon Federation. My background, over the last 20+ years is in applied salmon biology and ecology with an emphasis on assessment, restoration, and strategic planning. I co-wrote the recovery strategy for the Atlantic salmon of the St. Mary’s River and have been involved in numerous environmental assessments and monitoring projects, developing several novel approaches to restoration. Earlier in my career I was also a research associate at the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia where I worked on many different salmonid ecology and physiology projects.

Prior to joining the Atlantic Salmon Federation in 2019, I spent the previous 12 years as a laboratory instructor at St. Francis Xavier University (Antigonish, NS) where I taught ecology, physiology, biodiversity, aquatic resources field camps; in addition to the teaching I also supervised numerous senior student research projects.

In addition to my work with Atlantic Salmon Federation I also head my own consulting environmental company, Hunter Environmental Services. I love to get outside and am very community focussed, being active with Scouts, the Community Science Centre Association, local theatre, and the local baseball teams.

Kyle Milburn

Headshot of Kyle Milburn, Fisheries Biologist and NRTG instructor.

I have 10 years experience conducting fisheries and hydrometric studies in British Columbia and since 2008 have worked as a consultant conducting environmental impact assessments for independent power producers as well as conducting water use plan studies for BC Hydro. Further I have worked on countless streams throughout British Columbia and gained extensive knowledge in the fields of fisheries resource inventory, fish habitat assessment, in-stream flow studies, ramping studies/stranding monitoring, water quality testing and hydrometric installations and measurements. 

In short, I am passionate for fish and people. 

Leah Hull

I have grown my career and expertise in line with my passion for the outdoors. I started my career in the public sector, working with parks and protected areas, with a focus on wildlife and water quality. For most of the last ten years though, I have been working on a wide range of large-scale baseline and long-term monitoring programs in the private energy sector; these projects have included the forestry, mining, and hydroelectric industries in British Columbia. I manage large crews and complex field programs during the designing, planning, and implementing of these projects, and also through the follow up analysis and reporting phases.  I wear the generalist hat proudly as I feels competent in a variety of environments and many types of field sampling in the aquatic and terrestrial landscapes. 

LeeAnn Muggeridge

I am certified for biological work in two provinces, being recognized as a Registered Technologist in Biology with the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists and an Applied Biology Technician with the British Columbia College of Applied Biology. I have a diploma in Marine Environmental Technology and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and have been working as an environmental specialist for 9+ years in Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta, and British Columbia. In these provinces I have specialized in construction management and monitoring, habitat assessments in natural and disturbed areas, wildlife management, and fisheries and aquatics. A portion of my career has focused on fish salvaging, fish habitat monitoring, and fish stranding projects to determine and minimize the effects on fish during infrastructure projects and mining operations.

Lindsey Felix

I am an instructor with nearly twenty years of experience in the fields of biology, environmental science, and toxicology. My primary interest is the effects of human activities on aquatic environments and am an Assistant Professor, who supervises first-year biology laboratories at Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS), as well as an Online Instructor for an occupational toxicology course through MacEwan University (Edmonton AB). I hold a PhD degree in aquatic toxicology from the University of Alberta and have published ten journal articles, two book chapters, and several technical documents. I call Nova Scotia home and here I enjoy camping, fishing, and hiking with my husband and twins.

Maggie Pugh

I am an ecologist with almost two decades experience specializing in ecosystem assessment. I completed my graduate research in Canada’s northern wetlands and have worked as an ecologist in the private sector for more that 15 years; these years of experience have made me a seasoned field biologist with expertise in species-at-risk screenings and permitting, flora and fauna inventories, wildlife surveys and habitat assessment, rare species monitoring programs, wetland and vegetation community assessments, sediment and erosion control, and environmental monitoring. Continued training during my working life has allowed me to be certified in Ontario in Ecological Land Classification and as an Ontario Wetland Evaluation System evaluator, and a Butternut Health Assessor.

Marcus Atkins

I studied biology and ecological restoration at the University of Victoria (BC), following which I worked in the outdoor tourism industry as a grizzly bear viewing guide in the Great Bear Rainforest, along the remote coast of northern British Columbia. After a few years living with the bears, I made the switch from the rainforest to the desert to study western rattlesnakes in the Okanagan Valley (BC) for my MSc research. Since then I have dabbled in a variety of ecological work including government research projects, private consulting for industry, and university teaching. In addition to instructing for NRTG, I am currently returning to school yet again to pursue a Bachelor of Education with ambitions to open an outdoor school and provide an option for experiential learning outside of the classroom. In my spare-time I enjoy skiing, mountain biking, wildlife photography, and travelling to unique ecosystems around the world.

Mark Pulsifer

I am from a small town in an agricultural area of Nova Scotia and grew up roaming the fields and forests near my home. I always enjoyed natural history and being outdoors, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting, so after high school I went to Acadia University (NS) where I eventually received my MSc in population biology in 1986. Two years later I moved with my partner and our two children to Antigonish to become a Regional Wildlife Biologist for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources and Renewables. In my career I was responsible for “everything wildlife”, including wildlife surveys, integrated forestry-wildlife planning, nuisance wildlife and chemical immobilization, and wildlife education. During my time as a biologist I managed several projects focused on the conservation biology of wood turtles, moose, old growth forest and freshwater mussels. Not long after moving to Antigonish I was invited by the local university to teach biology and resource management in the faculties of biology and education, which I am still doing. In 2015 I moved into a management position and became a Regional Integrated Resource Manager, and was responsible for regional Crown land-use planning. In 2019, following a comprehensive review of forest management practices in Nova Scotia I worked with several teams responsible for the implementation of various aspects of ‘ecological forestry’ until my retirement in 2021. Not long after retiring I started my own wildlife consulting company specializing in wildlife surveys and forestry-wildlife training. I still enjoy hunting and fishing with my son and grandsons, and try to get out on my mountain bike as often as possible.

Morgan Brown

I am a highly-regarded forestry professional, having 30+ years experience managing forestry, silviculture, terrain stability, biophysical inventories and wildlife management projects on behalf of industry consultants, forest licensees, BC Parks, and other government and First Nations groups throughout B.C. 

Raymond Campbell

Environmental Professional

Raymond has a lifelong passion for the outdoors and has spent over thirty years practicing and developing skills which enhance his awe and appreciation for the wilderness. His certifications and training span between conservation, emergency spill response, occupational health & safety, wildlife survey and cartography. He holds a BFA in fine art with an emphasis on camouflage and has completed tracker survival courses with several mentors. With considerable backcountry experience, he has enjoyed trekking both in North America and Europe. Although originally from the high desert of southern California, he has made his home in the southern Rocky Mountains for the last three decades where he most recently worked with joint DZF, CDOT and CPW conservation teams to collect data that can help mitigate wildlife death from automobile collision. In his spare time, he is an avid backpacker and archer, and tracks anything he can in both wilderness and urban environments.

Fun fact: Raymond has walked from Colorado to California in just over thirty days.

Rebecca Hay

I have worked as a terrestrial ecologist for nearly twenty years in the private, non-profit, and government sectors in Ontario, with a specialization in botanical field investigations including plant inventories, vegetation classification and mapping, and wetland assessments. I also have generalist wildlife knowledge of species, habitats, and survey protocols. The majority of my career has involved the completion of environmental impact studies and environmental assessments, requiring the documentation and evaluation of natural features; assessment of project impacts on natural features; development of mitigation measures to avoid, minimize or offset negative impacts; and the application of relevant policies and legislation. 

Sama AlMaarofi

I am an ecological assessment and habitat restoration specialist, but also a naturalist who loves to explore and understand the environment. My career and path of work took many curves through the last twenty years. I started as a field ecologist investigating the diversity of wildlife in the Mesopotamian marshes of southern Iraq. Then in my intermediate level of experience, became a team leader managing habitat restoration projects. As an expert, I have become an environmental consultant conducting environmental impact assessment studies. In addition to my environmental work, I am also a professor and educator interested in sharing my knowledge and experience with students and young professionals.

Sean Mitchell

I have worked in and studied the field of biology and impact assessment since 1987 and in that time have gained experience in four Canadian provinces (British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland) working on a broad array of fish and wildlife, from periphyton to mammals. My experience has ranged widely from basic fieldwork to experimental biomechanics of crustaceans; from environmental impact analyses and fisheries issues through biogeography, philosophy, and sophisticated data analyses and modelling; from forests to the ocean. I have always been, and strive to remain, a generalist in a world of hyper specialization and fascination with technology.

Sean Power

I am a Registered Professional Forester that has spent most of my 25 working years in Harvest Operations and Operational Planning focusing on GPS, Lidar, and drone technology. I graduated from the College of North Atlantic in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, obtaining my Forest Technician diploma then continuing on to complete a Bachelor of Science in forestry from Lakehead University (Thunder Bay, ON).

Currently as the Manager of Forest Management Planning at the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables in Nova Scotia, I am working on an overhaul of current forest management practices aiming toward more ecological based conditions, as well as working on research projects that complement this new approach.

Steph Walsh

I grew up in the UK countryside and have lived in Canada for many years. Through volunteering, working, and travelling for field work, I have been fortunate enough to work in and visit several countries, provinces and territories. My work has been quite varied but mostly focused on environmental science, wildlife biology, and ecology with this work being completed for engineering consultants, government, national parks, and private organisations. I have worked on an array of projects from feeding habits of rare birds, through cougar monitoring and post construction surveys of large wind farms, to managing a program reducing visitor impact on protected areas.

Thomas Munson

I am a Professional Agrologist and Certified Wildlife and Danger Tree Assessor and have a Masters of Science degree from the University of Victoria (British Columbia). I have worked with First Nations in Canada, specifically the Yukon Territory and British Columbia, and Colombia in South America for much of my career. I am experienced and have conducted field work in the disciplines of fisheries, wildlife, botany, archaeology, forestry, vegetation inventory, and environmental assessment. I worked for many years as an environmental technician for the City of Victoria, concentrating on ecological restoration and management of Garry oak ecosystems; as a Senior Environmental Planner for the District of Saanich, I now work to protect these same Garry oak ecosystems from development activities.

Wendy Margetts

I am a registered professional biologist with the College of Applied Biologists in British Columbia and currently reside on the traditional lands of the Tkʼemlúps te Secwépemc peoples (Kamloops, BC). My experience includes working across sectors in indigenous communities, academia, government, and industry. I am passionate about collaboration and communication while working on research-focused projects. My technical expertise is mainly in the areas of fisheries, aquatic ecology, wetlands, and wildlife, and I received my BSc from Dalhousie University (Halifax, NS), and MSc from Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops BC); my Master’s research focused on aquatic invasive species and their impacts on species-at-risk.

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