Working in the field is the most enjoyable part of my job. The field work is diverse and spans several locations so I never get bored of it! Also, the field work allows me to learn about the natural environment which is a passion of mine.

Heather Leech

Ecologist at an Environmental Consulting Firm

My experience covers the conservation of natural resources, regulatory approvals, environmental impact assessments and cumulative effects assessments as well as the development of comprehensive mitigation and rehabilitation measures and monitoring programs

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day can change based on the season. In the spring and summer months the majority of my time consists of field work which can involve anything from birding (assessing the bird species on a block of land by ear and sight), vegetation assessments (determining the ecological land classifications of sites based on the vegetation present), stream flow measurement, water sampling and wetland monitoring. In the fall and winter months the majority of my time is spent analysing the data collected in the field and writing Environmental Impact Assessments, Environmental Impact Studies and Environmental Assessments for our clients to gain approval for their projects.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Working in the field is the most enjoyable part of my job. The field work is diverse and spans several locations so I never get bored of it! Also, the field work allows me to learn about the natural environment which is a passion of mine.

What is the least enjoyable part of your job?

Desk work involving tedious tasks, such as, filling out forms or administration work.

Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).

During my undergraduate degree in University I took mainly general science courses and then specialised in ecology courses in third and fourth year. During the summer months of my undergrad I was a summer student at an environmental consulting firm, which lead me to my current job.

Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?

My dad played a large role in helping me determine what I wanted to do with my life. Once I became interested in ecology, he set up lunch dates with people he knew in the field so I could talk to them about what they did, which helped me determined what I wanted to do later in life.

What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?

Volunteer with naturalist groups and gain any experience or knowledge you can about the natural environment. Knowing plants by their latin names is very helpful and not many young people can do it!

Since the population is continually growing, development is inevitable but if we can help make it sustainable and ecologically friend then it is better for the environment in the grand scheme of things.

How does your job make a difference?

As an environmental consultant, our clients want to develop a plot of land and we determine the best / most ecologically friendly way to do it. Since the population is continually growing, development is inevitable but if we can help make it sustainable and ecologically friend then it is better for the environment in the grand scheme of things.

How do you use science, math and technology in your job?

I use science every day in my job. Generally having a firm background in biology and ecology makes my job easy because I understand how landscapes function in terms of water, vegetation and how development can affect the natural processes.

When assessing stream flows there are some equations that need to be used and graphs that are plotted and I use my background in math for that.

In terms of technology, there are many field devices that I use to take different measurements of water and soil quality, stream flow and location data.

Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?

No – I always knew I wanted to get a job in science so I took all the sciences courses I could.

This job is right for me because it involves outdoor work which I love, and also analytical work so I have to use my brain as well as my body.

What makes this job right for you?

This job is right for me because it involves outdoor work which I love, and also analytical work so I have to use my brain as well as my body.

What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?

Crawl through a sewer to get a streamflow measurement.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

Anything outdoors – hiking, biking, gardening, skiing, tennis, soccer, volleyball, baseball, camping, canoeing, birding and learning about the natural environment.

You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?

Travel the world!

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