Fleming Environmental Technology graduate Joseph Gentile performs essential environmental services for City of Toronto

Joseph Gentile is putting his Environmental Technology skills to use by delivering essential environmental services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

As one of six summer student technicians in the Environmental Monitoring & Protection Unit of Toronto Water, Joseph is responsible for environmental water quality monitoring of surface waters in the City of Toronto.

“I think seeing the piece of the puzzle my co-workers and I contribute to the larger picture, on a daily basis, has made me aware of just how important it is to continue environmental monitoring, even during a global pandemic,” said Joseph, who monitors stormwater outfall and public beach surface water.

“Continuing these efforts is crucial in providing the public, specifically Toronto’s three million residents, the information they need to make informed decisions about where to safely swim,” he said. “Consistent environmental monitoring also allows councils and other decision-making authorities to access concrete, reliable data for making informed decisions about the fate of projects and how to best re-evaluate them in the future.”

Performing environmental service duties amidst the pandemic requires Joseph to be adaptable and to follow media sources closely for information, as the situation is evolving daily. “My team and I had to be aware of the timely decisions made by politicians,” he explains. “In the month of June, we received confirmation that beaches would re-open, hence the kickstart of the 2020 beaches water quality monitoring program. We continue to work and communicate with public health officials, city council and leaders from other departments to ensure this program is being fulfilled while adhering to new protocols and procedures.”

Working as a summer student technician has been a fantastic experience for Joseph, who enjoys trekking through dense vegetation and exciting terrain to access waterways, managing datasets, and assisting with data entry and technical reports.

His favourite experience thus far is working in a watershed within East York, sampling stormwater discharge from remote stormwater outfalls. On route, Joseph and his colleagues spotted a family of deer, a Blue Heron, and several rare wildflower species. For an ecosystem within the Toronto area, Joseph is amazed at the diversity it offers.

He is grateful for this career experience and feels confident performing duties thanks to his Fleming College education. “From sampling effluent water exiting stormwater outfalls to collecting beach water samples and analyzing them in the lab, the Environmental Technology program has prepared me to work in this dynamic workplace environment quite well,” said Joseph, who has been passionate about protecting the environment since childhood.

Joseph chose Fleming College’s Environmental Technology advanced diploma program for its mix of field and laboratory learning experiences, and the variety of careers he could pursue. He highly recommends this program to anyone interested in learning about the natural environment and monitoring and protecting it for future generations.

“My experience at Frost has been nothing short of amazing!” said Joseph, who graduated in 2020. “The people on campus – professors, faculty, and peers – are all friendly and will know you on a first-name basis. This program is really dynamic and has supplied me with some amazing certifications and interactive learning opportunities, which allow me to feel confident in my ability applying my acquired knowledge in a real-work setting.”

Joseph will be continuing his education this September in Trent University’s Water Sciences degree program, which he applied to at Fleming College’s annual Education Pathways event. “The Environmental Technology program has exposed me to so many fascinating components of our natural environment and is allowing me, as a graduate, to specialize in a component that I find intriguing,” said Joseph.

“My time at Fleming has certainly played a role in preparing me for my next chapter at Trent University,” he said. “While I am sure some parts will be new, I know that the experience – not only through academics, but practical experience also – I have gained will help me make a seamless transition to university.”