Madison Penton and her 31 Ecosystem Management Technology classmates boarded a bus to Washington, D.C., on January 22 for the Science, Business, and Education of Sustainable Infrastructure: Building Resilience in a Changing World conference.
The conference, which was presented by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), is a component of the Urban Ecosystems and Ecosystem Health courses. The event gives students the opportunity to see how a conference is organized and brainstorm ideas for their own conference, which they will host on March 24 at Fleming’s Frost Campus.
Madison and her Urban Ecosystems course team also presented a scientific poster at the conference, which is one of the project options in the Fleming College course. Her team presented on How to play with fire and not get burned: an evidence-based approach to wildfire risk reduction in California.
“I think one of the biggest things I gained from this experience was confidence,” said Madison. “During the conference, we really had to put ourselves out there, push past our comfort zones and take chances. Presenting a scientific poster on an international stage was nerve-racking but rewarding. Although it was scary when scientists and professionals approached us, we felt confident enough to answer their questions. Also, because the conference topics were so relevant to our learning, I felt confident to talk to anyone!”
While the conference gives students the opportunity to listen to scientists and environmental professionals discuss topics they are learning about in the classroom, the Fleming College group also had the opportunity to explore the history and culture of Washington.
“I had a great experience in Washington. Not only was the conference an incredible opportunity for networking and professional gain, but having the opportunity to explore an amazing new city was equally worthwhile,” she said.
Madison chose to take Ecosystem Management Technology at Fleming College after completing the Ecosystem Management Technician program, as she said the extra year will benefit her educational pathway to Trent University.
“My experience in the Ecosystem Management program has been nothing but rewarding. I have gained so much knowledge and passion for the environment I live in,” said Madison. “The opportunities I have had through field trips and out-of-classroom experiences, like the Washington trip, have been incredible for my personal gain. These experiences also provide opportunities for team building and have provided me with an opportunity to build friendships that I will treasure forever.”
With a business plan and a diploma in hand, Dan Carrocci was only 21 years old when he walked into a bank to request a loan. The Fleming College graduate needed the money to purchase a geotechnical drilling rig to start his own drilling business, Determination Drilling.
With the goal of one day being a full-service drilling contractor, Dan purchased the rig and hired one employee. 14 years later, Determination Drilling is now a full-service drilling company that specializes in environmental, geotechnical, water well, geothermal, hydro power, solar, wind, and mining/exploration drilling with 22 employees and growing.
And that first rig Dan purchased at 21 years old is still in use, along with 10 geotechnical drill rigs, seven solar rigs, one water well drill, and many other small portable rigs for limited access projects.
“We’ve had sustainable growth,” said Dan on Determination Drilling’s success. “And by being so diverse we haven’t been at the mercy of economic downturns. When one industry goes down, another goes up; when mining is down, the geotechnical side is up as a result of government infrastructure spending, for example.”
Determination Drilling has travelled across Canada for thousands of drilling projects, including exploration drilling of kimberlite pipes in James Bay, diamond core drilling of iron ore in Newfoundland and Labrador, mining and infrastructure projects in Nunavut, geotechnical drilling on the 400 series highways in Ontario, and more.
“What I love is that it’s challenging. Nothing is easy, you have to wear many hats. You have to be a mechanic, a geologist, a weatherman, and a little bit of everything to make it work. There are long hours and long days, there’s cold and heat…,” said Dan. “It’s a huge accomplishment when you defy all odds and make the impossible happen. We have a team of dedicated, smart and determined operators that are the key to Determination Drilling’s success– teamwork makes the dream work!”
One of Dan’s favourite work experiences is drilling in Bathurst Inlet, Nunavut, where he takes a two-hour helicopter ride over the Arctic Circle in – 60 degree weather to get to the job site. “It was like the ultimate camping trip…with wolverines,” said Dan.
He also enjoys taking breaks to bond with staff, which includes bringing them hot chocolate and barbequing on the site. “I want my employees happy,” he said. “It’s a tough job and I’m proud of the way they represent our company. We’re all best friends and look out for each other like a big family.”
75% of Determination Drilling staff are Fleming College graduates, mainly from the Resources Drilling Technician and Heavy Equipment Operator programs. He credits the college as being a very valuable hiring resource.
“These teachers should be working at NASA and they stay on top of the industry” – Dan Carrocci on Fleming College faculty
“They graduate with the fundamentals, tooling identification, very strong safety knowledge; and usually have their DZ license, which saves me as an employer from having to pay for it,” said Dan. “Their instructors are excellent. I see Brian Gerry (Earth Resources Technician Co-op program coordinator) and Steve Wilkinson (Resources Drilling Technician program coordinator) at the PDAC every year working on their own dime to keep up-to-date with current technologies and industry trends. These teachers should be working at NASA and they stay on top of the industry. They deserve a lot more credit; without their passion for the industry, where would we be? I certainly would not have the same quality of drillers, and I might not have even become a driller at all without their leadership.”
As a safety advocate, Dan truly appreciates Fleming’s emphasis on safe working practices. Every employee at Determination Drilling is educated in drilling safety practices, and has First Aid/CPR training and common core training. Dan also delivers safety presentations in North America, Australia and England, and in 2009 he hosted a safety conference at Frost Campus and invited drilling managers from around the world.
“For the International Drilling Safety Conference, Fleming provided a venue for that,” said Dan, who is thankful for the strong network he has at Fleming. “I can always call my college professors for help when I’m in need of advice or direction.”
One day, Dan said, perhaps he’ll be the one at the front of the classroom… but only as a guest speaker to share his experiences with the next generation of drillers. Dan still enjoys being out in the field learning every day and loves the adventure, plus – he added – it’s tough to get dirty in a classroom.
Kelly McLean credits Fleming College’s strong pathway agreement with Trent University for helping her achieve her education goals.
“The transfer agreement with Trent was key to me achieving my schooling goals because I was able to complete a four year degree in two years. If I had to complete all four years I likely would not have gone to university,” said Kelly, who is now completing her Master of Science and Forestry at the University of New Brunswick.
“When I started at Fleming I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but the professors were very inspiring and we were exposed to so many different topics that I was able to explore my interests and begin to build a career that I am very passionate about,” she said.
After graduating from Fleming College, Kelly decided to use the education pathway to Trent University because of the strong agreement between the two institutions. She liked that Trent was also small and environmentally focused, and that some of her Fleming peers were also going to attend Trent to add a degree to their resumé.
“Fleming students were well-known at Trent for our field skills, so we were often called upon by our lab coordinators to lead lab work.”
“It was great to have the support of peers going through the same process,” she said. “Fleming students were well-known at Trent for our field skills, so we were often called upon by our lab coordinators to lead lab work.”
Kelly said the administrative process of moving from Fleming to Trent was “very smooth and seamless” and felt very prepared for university courses thanks to her college education.
“In fact, my thesis supervisor recently commented that I have above average writing, a skill that I attribute to the projects and reports that I completed at Fleming,” Kelly added.
After earning her Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology (2016) from Trent, Kelly spent four months working as a Student Migratory Game Bird Technician for the Aquatic Assessment Unit of Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Service, and spent another eight months working as a Wildlife Biologist.
“Having a combined field skill set from college and university has provided me with very employable skills.”
She is now working on a research-based master’s degree at the University of New Brunswick, studying wetland buffer width and the persistence of black ducks in New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Joe Nocera. She anticipates completing her Master of Science and Forestry in 2019.
Kelly’s end goal is to work in government science and influence policy around harvested wildlife species. “Having a combined field skill set from college and university has provided me with very employable skills,” she said.
Annie Brough needed an edge in the competitive job market, so she decided to add a Fleming College post-graduate program to her resume.
“I wasn’t having any luck finding a job in geography with just my BA,” said Annie, who graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2015 with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography with minors in Global Studies and French. She then worked various jobs, including work as a hostess, farm and market worker, server, and teaching piano lessons.
“When I was job searching, I noticed there were a decent number of GIS job postings. As a creative, artistic person, I decided that my best chances for success would be to pursue further schooling in GIS,” she said.
Annie exclusively applied to Fleming College’s post-graduate Geographic Information Systems – Cartographic Specialist program because it was highly renowned and had positive reviews online, the program was only three semesters long, and Annie felt her artistic skills and geography knowledge would help her succeed in the Cartographic stream.
“It wasn’t until I attended the GIS Open House that I really understood what I was getting myself into. Seeing all of the amazing work the students accomplished made me super excited to get started, but it also terrified me. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to succeed in the program,” said Annie. “Thankfully, I met a friend from Laurier at the Open House who was just finishing the program, and he gave me some idea of what to expect in the upcoming months and words of encouragement.”
Her experience at Frost Campus was enjoyable and she describes the teachers as fantastic and helpful. She loves that the school is quiet and peaceful, features big windows to let in lots of sunlight, and is full of plants.
Fleming College also made Annie feel more confident about her job prospects, which was why she attended in the first place. Annie said her teachers emailed students job opportunities, related class material to real-life situations, introduced new job prospects and ideas, and welcomed guest speakers from the industry to class. And it worked out, as Annie was hired on contract by Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA) as a GIS Assistant after graduating this year.
“My Fleming education definitely helped me get this job. During my interview, I was asked technical questions about various GIS applications, terms and systems. Without my Fleming education, I wouldn’t have been able to answer the majority of the interview questions,” said Annie. “The Career Centre at the school was also key to my success. They helped to mentally prepare me for the interview, and provided a general idea of what to expect and how best to conduct myself professionally.”
As GIS Assistant, Annie develops and modifies the creation and implementation of geomatics databases; supports projects, including reports, databases, analysis and mapping requests; creates and prepares maps, graphs and other documents for presentations, training and publications; and provides staff with technical support on GIS software, and more.
“The best thing about my job at CLOCA is the people and the opportunities. The people at CLOCA are so friendly and supportive, I felt at home the moment I walked through the door on my first day,” said Annie. “I feel like my Fleming education never ended! I have learned so much at CLOCA, it’s almost hard to comprehend– and I can’t wait to keep on learning!”
Annie said she “100%” recommends the GIS – Cartographic Specialist program at Fleming College. “If you want a job in GIS, apply to this program, it will get you there. Quite a few organizations exclusively hire Fleming GIS graduates,” she said. “The school prepares you for the real world and the teachers are professionals in their fields, with a lot of first-hand experience in many different areas, provinces and countries.”
Crystal Smith was stuck between a rock and a hard place when considering her post-secondary options for geology. As a kinesthetic learner, the applied approach of college appealed to Crystal; but industry professionals recommended a university degree. Luckily for Crystal, Fleming College’s Earth Resources Technician Co-op program offers the best of both worlds through Education Pathways.
“I still haven’t stopped talking about my experiences at Frost Campus, so I would say it was great! The programs at Frost Campus offered so many opportunities to learn outdoors and gave me the confidence I needed going into outdoor and industrial workplace environments,” she said.
Crystal recommends Frost Campus to those wanting to gain skills for resource and environmental industries, and to those who prefer an outdoor learning and working environment. “Also with the new GeoCentre being developed, it’s a great time to take the opportunity of using new labs and modern equipment,” she added.
After graduating from Fleming College in 2016, Crystal used Fleming College’s Education Pathway to Acadia University in Nova Scotia and entered into the third-year of the Bachelor of Science in Geology program.
“Nova Scotia has an amazing geological history and the variety of rock types in such a small province makes for a great place to study,” she said.
Crystal said she shares the knowledge and skills she gained at Fleming College with her peers at Acadia, and that Fleming prepared her for university in terms of time-management and hard work.
“I would recommend the Education Pathway to any Fleming grad that thrives to learn more about geology and would like to travel and experience the East Coast,” said Crystal. “Since I have been at Acadia, I have developed a greater understanding of petrology and continue to learn in detail about igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, along with their economic importance.”
This summer Crystal put her knowledge and skills to work as a Field Assistant (Summer Student) for the Department of Natural Resources, Geological Division, where she stayed with three geologists and two other students.
As a Field Assistant, Crystal conducted soil sampling, surficial mapping, operated vehicles (including off-roading vehicles), and navigated using GPS, compass and maps. Once samples were collected and dry, they were processed in the lab; Crystal’s lab duties include splitting samples, sieving, operating a portable XRF for geochemical analysis and performing clast lithologies.
“Exploring by helicopter was hands-down the most exciting thing I did all summer. My field supervisor allowed me to navigate to a site using a GPS and a LIDAR map while in the helicopter and the best part of it all was flying around with the door open,” said Crystal.
Crystal credits Fleming College for preparing her for this job. Through Fleming’s Earth Resources Technician Co-op program, Crystal learned how to navigate using GPS, compass and maps. And through the program’s Digital Image Interpretation course, Crystal learned how to use LIDAR images and remote sensing images, which helped her navigate and interpret results.
“One of the biggest skills that I continually used in the field and lab was safety awareness, mainly on trenching sites,” she said. “Safety awareness was constantly stressed to students at Fleming College and after being in the field I am grateful that I know what to watch out for.”
Crystal’s advice for current students is to know when you need motivation and to seek it. “I’ve always felt inspired to learn more after listening to professional geologists tell their stories and share their great adventures in the field,” said Crystal. “My favorite was a lecture told by a Fleming graduate who also transferred to Acadia, who came and gave a speech to undergraduate students. I could relate to the academic route and at the same time the worldly adventures that person had throughout their career gave me enough inspiration that moment to gladly study more.”
Canada Day was extra special this year for Frost Campus graduate Leah Skinner. The Forestry Inspector for the City of Mississauga planned and created a Canadian flag flower bed as part of the Canada 150 celebrations.
This is just one of the many cool responsibilities Leah has at the City of Mississauga. She manages contracts and budgets for boulevard grass maintenance and horticulture, inspects and creates work for City-owned trees, and works with councillors, management and residents to help answer questions and provide feedback.
“Basically all my education at Fleming has been useful in my career choice,” she said. Leah listed tree identification, climbing and safety, disease and pest identification, soil testing, and knot tying as some examples of applicable skills.
“I found continuing my studies would provide a more progressive and more specialized portfolio schooling-wise, completing the programs I chose to do,” she said. “I was unsure at the young age of 17, when I started school, of what I really wanted to be when I grew up. So I started to specialize once I understood what I had my passion for.”
Leah decided to come to Fleming College after attending the Frost Campus Open House. “I felt a sense of ‘coming home’ when I walked in the front entrance. The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, inviting and simply perfect,” Leah explained. “I had been to many other colleges and universities for their Open Houses, and Fleming was the last and final one. I knew from stepping in the building that this was going to be my school of choice.”
She describes her college experience as “enlightening” and “uplifting,” and said she learned a lot about herself during that time.
“I started school as a shy introverted student who sat in the front-right of the class, and didn’t say much and just did my work with my head down; to graduating and accomplishing many different things, such as being the Director of Student Activities and Affairs on the Student Council,” said Leah, who credits Fleming College with transforming her into an extrovert who felt comfortable asking questions in class.
She also volunteered at every Fleming Open House event during the six years she spent at the college. At the event, Leah shared her love of the campus, its programs, and encouraged women to pursue careers in the male-dominated Arboriculture industry.
She encourages everyone to attend Fleming College for their post-secondary studies because of the positive environment and faculty support.
“The professors are 200% invested in their students and it shows every day in class. The teachers would extend their office hours if a student was in need of help, they would stay late after class to help students study… and these are only a few things they did,” she said. “The college in general has a welcoming atmosphere where no one is judged. […] Everyone is simply kind in person and in soul at Fleming and it shows.”
Every workday is an adventure for Kim Chamberlain, a 2016 graduate of Fleming College’s Outdoor and Adventure Education program. During the summer months Kim works as a wilderness and whitewater guide, and during the winter she conducts dog sledding.
“I have been so blessed to be able to do what I love as a career,” said Kim, who is spending the summer as an independent contractor for The Canadian Canoe Museum, Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, and Luna Adventures.
“I would have to say that every trip that I have done on the Madawaska River with new paddlers has brought some amazing memories,” said Kim. “I love seeing students who have never done whitewater before start out just terrified! On that first rapid they go down it can be a negotiation to even get them to go, by the end of the second day they are just shredding it. Watching the smiling/scared/excited faces coming down the rapids just makes my heart soar every time.”
Kim’s career today looks much different from the life she led years ago. For ten years Kim ran a publishing company in Toronto.
“I decided that I needed a change,” she said. “I packed up and moved to the country with my boyfriend and dog, and enrolled in the program.”
She chose Fleming College because it offered “the perfect outdoor education program,” and highly recommends it because students earn the necessary certifications, learn about risk management and how to deal with groups.
“Without these skills I wouldn’t be able to do what I do today,” she said.
This winter, Kim will take on a new adventure in the United Arab Emirates. She will work as an Adventure Instructor for Absolute Adventure in Kalba, UAE.
Her advice to current students is to stay positive. “Know that there will be times that you will fall down and think that you’re failing, that you’re in over your head,” she said. “But it’s all part of the experience, your life starts when you pick yourself back up and keep going.”
Instead of studying in the hustle and bustle of a big city, Connor opted to do his post-secondary education on 150 acres of land at Fleming’s School of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences. And instead of taking a 9-to-5 office job after graduating, Connor chose to move to New Zealand to lead hikes on the Franz Josef Glacier.
As Trainee Guide for Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Connor is responsible for groups of up to 11 people, providing safe, fun and informative three-hour hikes.
The Class of 2015 Fleming graduate credits his college education with helping him secure this dream job. Connor took the Outdoor and Adventure Education program, which teaches students how to plan and lead outdoor adventures, provide educational and interpretive programming, and help others develop their skills and confidence while sharing an appreciation of the outdoors.
“The main skills I’d say that have really helped me is communication, problem solving and quick thinking. With these skills I have been able to adapt to almost every situation I have been put in,” said Connor.
Connor decided to attend Fleming’s Frost Campus in Lindsay, Ont., because of its environment. “It is a very welcoming, open and relaxed school. Made me feel right at home, like I belonged there the moment I arrived on the first day,” said Connor.
“I find that Fleming College is a great stepping stone, whether that is for a future job or continuing higher education in the future, such as university,” he said. “I enjoyed every minute of my time there. Made great friends and loved the whole outdoors vibe the campus gives off.”
His advice to current students is to dream big and work hard to achieve it. “Always shoot for the stars, no matter how hard or far away it may seem,” he said. “Aim as high as you can and give it all you got, and you’ll find you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”
“I wanted to work in the forest, but I needed to learn more about them and the practices used during forestry operations,” said Adam.
He decided to take Fleming’s Forestry Technician program to learn more and describes his post-secondary experience as “incredible.”
This two-year program teaches students to work effectively in natural resources management. It covers traditional forestry skills, such as compassing and tree identification, as well as how to use high tech industry software.
“The teachers and staff are so kind and want to see you succeed, and it motivates you to do the best that you can,” he said.
Adam, who graduated from Frost Campus this year, said he recommends the program to those who are interested in forests, the animals that inhabit them, and how it all comes together as an ecosystem.
Today, the Fleming graduate is happy to call the woods his workplace. Adam is working for Jackfish River Management in Hornepayne, Northern Ontario as a Forestry Technician.
“Due to my experiences at Fleming College, I was able to get this job,” said Adam. “Once I got started, I was aware of the work we were doing because it was all taught to me during the duration of my program.”
Adam is responsible for supervising tree planting and inspection, conducting Free to Grow surveys and post-harvest surveys, and creating harvest maps using ArcGIS and aerial images. His favourite task, he said, is supervising and inspecting the trees during a tree plant.
Adam’s advice to current and future students is to persevere through challenges. “I would like to tell them not to give up on anything,” he said.
From the Town of Nebo archaeological project in Jordan to a 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Open House 2017 featured an array of collaborative projects.
At the June 23 event, GIS – Application Specialist and Cartographic Specialist graduates showcased their projects, which they completed in partnership with non-profit and government organizations. The projects were from a variety of fields, including archaeology, forestry, municipal, natural resources, ecology, and technology.
Cartographic Specialist graduate Sean McPherson, who worked with classmates Mackenzie Marsh and Dillon Ward to create a 3D visualization of Peterborough Airport, enjoyed partnering with the County of Peterborough for their collaborative project.
“It shows you more about the real world and how they plan things…” – Sean McPherson
“My experience working with the County was great,” said Sean. “It shows you more about the real world and how they plan things, their structure and how they operate.”
The team utilized existing LIDAR data to create a 3D representation and a 2-dimentional map service. LIDAR is the most accurate method of gathering 3D data and in 2015 a joint project between the City of Peterborough and the County of Peterborough was undertaken to collect 10 point/m2 of LIDAR data. The County sought the expertise of Fleming’s GIS program to create an online visualization tool to help demonstrate the value of this data to users.
“They were eager to learn because they didn’t have much experience with the LIDAR there to put it on the web,” said Sean on collaborating with their community partner.
Application Specialist graduate Colleen Gibson believes more government organizations will be using GIS to help share information with constituents.
“I believe within the next five years the government will be pushing for more open data across the board,” said Colleen, who worked with her classmates Colleen McNamara and Brittany Zucchetto to create an Open Data Portal for the City of Barrie. “It helps make the government more transparent and increases community engagement.”
Colleen came to Fleming College after earning her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Geography with a specialization in Geomatics and minor in Global Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, where she was introduced to GIS.
“I heard lots of good things about Fleming College. It seemed like a great route to go and I’m happy I came” – Colleen Gibson
“I heard lots of good things about Fleming College. It seemed like a great route to go and I’m happy I came,” said Colleen. “I immersed myself in school life. These walls became my home and I know it sounds strange but I really enjoyed it.”
“It was a pretty intense couple first weeks working in my bedroom doing everything on my own,” said Shannon. “It was a lot, but there was a good support system of profs who encouraged us to network with other online students.”
When Shannon discovered she liked the cartographic side of things more than application, she took her education offline and attended the Cartographic Specialist program in-class at Frost Campus.
“Everyone felt like a family” – Shannon MacDonald
“Everyone felt like a family. I’m lucky, I know all of the online students and all of the in-class students,” said Shannon, who worked with Application Specialist students Brittney Bourdages and Markus Fleming on the Otonabee Region Watershed Significant Woodlands Mapping collaborative project.
For Annie Brough, Brad Oster and Adam Prong, who worked together on the Conservation Areas Web Apps project for Otonabee Region Conservation Authority, graduating is extra sweet because all three have jobs lined up in their field.
Cartographic Specialist graduate Annie Brough has been hired as GIS Assistant for Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, Application Specialist graduate Brad Oster will be Planning Technician for the Township of Severn in Orillia, and Cartographic Specialist graduate Adam Prong will return to Timmins Martelle Heritage Consultants Inc. – where he worked for three years prior to attending Fleming – as an Archaeological Field Technician. Adam hopes to take on more mapping responsibilities with his new skills and education, and has a meeting this week to discuss it.
“I had to answer lots of technical questions and I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise” – Annie Brough, who has been hired as GIS Assistant for Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority
Annie said her Fleming education was useful in her job interview. “I had to answer lots of technical questions and I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” she said. “And lots of the government workers there are graduates of this program and hire from this program. The majority come from Fleming– there and at the MNR.”
Brad said Fleming not only prepared him with the technical knowledge needed to answer his job interview questions, but with a strong and well-crafted resume as well. Brad explained that Fleming Career Services gave a presentation on resume writing to his class and he used this information to write his resume for the Township of Severn position.
And Brad and his teammates are entering the work world with real experience thanks to their collaborative project with Otonabee Region Conservation Authority. “It helps you get real work experience,” said Brad. “It shows you how things would operate in a real workplace before you graduate.
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