Abby Herd - Co-op Q & A

BEnv GES Major

Co-op Term: Spring & Summer 2021

1.    Where did you work (Department/Organization name and location)?

Disposal at Sea, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Pacific and Yukon Region (Vancouver, BC)

2.    What was your role (what type of work did you do)? What were some of your responsibilities?

My role was officially titled Data Technician. However, my work extended well beyond data compilation and analysis. I worked with all facets of the DaS program, from permitting, to environmental monitoring, to Indigenous consultation. Some of my major projects included the development of an automated and relational sediment chemistry Excel data sheet, collaboration with Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) on reducing wood waste inputs to freshwater and marine environments, and mapping Statement of Intent (SOI) boundaries of First Nations in BC overtop a BC basemap for Disposal at Sea consultation purposes.

3.    How did the skills/knowledge developed in the classroom apply to your job? What did you learn?

My GIS and Excel skills developed in courses such as GEOG 214, GEOG 251, GEOG 255, GEOG 355, and GEOG 351 were instrumental to my role. GIS skills developed in the classroom ensured I could create basic maps, plot disposal sites in ArcGIS Online, and convert files between shapefile and KML. Meanwhile, I performed statistical analyses on various datasets (e.g. sediment chemistry samples) using skills developed in GEOG 251 – Quantitative Geography.

4.    Can you share a challenge you faced in your Co-op and how you overcame it?

One challenge I faced during co-op was difficulty connecting with fellow co-op students. Working entirely remotely generally made developing connections challenging at times, especially with co-op students in other departments. However, I overcame this by just reaching out to co-op students on Microsoft Teams! This allowed me to join and work briefly with a student network in Environment Canada as well.

5.    What was your most memorable Co-op experience?

One of my most memorable co-op experiences was attending and helping to lead a ground-breaking workshop on the future of dredged and excavated material re-use in British Columbia. This workshop was attended by First Nations, NGOs, government officials, industry, and consultancy firms. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn about how future legislation and regulations are shaped by public opinions.

6.    What have you learned through your Co-op experience?

 I have learned that co-op is much more than a summer job, it is one of the best learning opportunities available to students. Coming into co-op, I was nervous about the work and forgot that co-op was also a learning opportunity. But it really is a phenomenal learning opportunity, especially in an organization such as Environment and Climate Change Canada, where there is no shortage of activity going on. I have learned to get comfortable asking questions, to take the lead on projects, and to seek out opportunities for mentorship.

7.    What advice do you have for future Co-op students?

Step outside the realms of your official title. There is likely much more going on at your workplace than what is written into your title. So, explore it! Plus, doing so will demonstrate your initiative as well as your desire to learn as much as you can during co-op.