Rochelle Byrne, Fleming
Ecosystem Management Technology graduate (Class of 2012), is proud to stand up
for what she believes in. To raise awareness of plastic pollution, Rochelle stand-up
paddleboarded 430km across Lake Ontario.
â€śI wanted to do this
stand-up paddle to raise awareness of plastic pollution because, after doing
hundreds of litter clean-ups along the shores of Lake Ontario, I found that
plastic was the most common thing being found,” said Rochelle. “Some
of it is coming from unexpected sources and a lot of it is completely
Rochelle is the founder of A
Greener Future, a non-profit organization that promotes environmental
preservation through organized litter cleanups, educational programs and
events. This includes the Love Your Lake series, comprising 100 organized
litter cleanups along Lake Ontario. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, A
Greener Future was not able to host this event series in 2020.
Still committed to raising
awareness about pollution in Lake Ontario, Rochelle decided to use her stand-up
paddleboard and document her journey on social media to help educate others.
â€śI saw raw sewage in the
lake, there were some smelly areas and dead fish,â€ť said Rochelle, who spent 92
hours stand-up paddleboarding. â€śIâ€™ll be sharing the full paddling journey
through my personal Instagram (@rochellebyrneagf) over the coming months.â€ť
While Rochelle always cared
about nature and animals, it wasnâ€™t until her experience at Flemingâ€™s School of
Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences that she developed a passion for
â€śI took Flemingâ€™s Ecosystem Management
program and thatâ€™s where I became aware of the impact I have on the
environment. Before attending classes at Frost (Flemingâ€™s Lindsay campus), I
really didnâ€™t know the impact I had,â€ť Rochelle explains. â€śThat was really a
starting point for me on protecting the environment. It also gave me the
opportunity to network and meet like-minded people.â€ť
Rochelle is a proud Fleming
College graduate and welcomes any like-minded people to volunteer at A Greener
Future. To apply to volunteer, please visit A Greener
A passion for research and asking questions is what drove Kelly McLean on her education journey, earning diplomas, a bachelorâ€™s degree, masterâ€™s degree, and now working towards a PhD. But achieving this level of education was not what Kelly had in mind when she started her post-secondary studies at Fleming College.
â€śI had never planned on doing a masterâ€™s, let alone a PhD,â€ť said Kelly. â€śI struggled academically in high school, and it wasnâ€™t until I started at Fleming and began studying something I was interested in that I began to achieve good grades and consider university as an option.â€ť
â€śMy interest in doing a PhD has been a cascading effect from my Fleming co-op, as this project is in partnership with my co-op organization,â€ť said Kelly on her PhD research which is a collaboration between the University of Waterloo and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
After her co-op placement, Kelly worked two summers as a Federal Student Work Experience student with the Canadian Wildlife Service as well as various contract positions, which included conducting crane surveys.
For her PhD in Social and Ecological Sustainability at the University of Waterloo, Kelly is researching the spatial ecology and habitat selection of sandhill cranes in Ontario and Quebec under the supervision of Dr. Brad Fedy. Sandhill cranes have grown in population and geographic range in the past decade, after being nearly extirpated from their historical range in Ontario in the early 1900s. Since this species forages in agricultural fields, this increase in population raises concerns of potential crop damage.
Kelly is working with the Canadian Wildlife Service to equip 80 cranes with transmitters to determine fine scale habitat use, migration timing and strategies, and help answer ecology questions. This research will help determine which agricultural fields are more prone to crop depredation, and potentially determine methods to prevent or mitigate crop damage.
â€śScience is all about asking questions, and I think that asking and answering relevant questions is very important in wildlife management,â€ť said Kelly. â€śI was once told that in college, you learn what sort of things you can ask questions about; in your undergrad, you learn what sort of questions you can ask; in your masterâ€™s, you learn how to ask those questions; and during your PhD, you actually answer the questions.â€ť
After graduating from Fleming College, Kelly used Flemingâ€™s education pathway to Trent University and earned her Honours Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology in 2016. She then spent four months working as a Student Migratory Game Bird Technician for the Aquatic Assessment Unit of Environment Canadaâ€™s Canadian Wildlife Service, followed by another eight months working as a Wildlife Biologist.
This experience working for the federal government inspired Kelly to earn a masterâ€™s degree, wanting to open doors for herself in policy and decision-making positions.
For her Master of Science and Forestry at the University of New Brunswick, Kelly studied wetland buffer width and the persistence of black ducks in New Brunswick under the supervision of Dr. Joe Nocera. Kelly worked with the Canadian Wildlife Service Atlantic Region and Ducks Unlimited Canada Atlantic Region to determine the effects of commercial forest harvesting on the distribution of breeding black ducks.
â€śThe field and logistical planning skills that I learned at Fleming were vital to this component of my masters. I had to navigate in dense forest and identify waterfowl daily, just like a typical day at Fleming field camp. It was the kind of position that Fleming excels at preparing students for, except this time I was the one in charge,â€ť said Kelly, who had the help of a Fleming Fish and Wildlife student on co-op placement and a Fleming graduate working as a technician.
â€śThe knowledge I gained at Fleming is a great foundation that I continually build on,â€ť she said.
For those considering an education pathway from Fleming College, Kelly recommends taking the opportunity.
â€śYou do not have to be the smartest person in the class to continue your education. Hard work and a good attitude are just as important as your GPA,â€ť said Kelly. â€śThe pathways program is a great way to effectively and economically get the best of both worlds and be very employable.â€ť
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.
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,â€ť said Joseph,
who monitors stormwater outfall and public beach surface water.
â€śContinuing these efforts is crucial
in providing the public, specifically Torontoâ€™s three million residents, the
information they need to make informed decisions about where to safely swim,â€ť
he said. â€śConsistent 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.â€ť
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. â€śMy team
and I had to be aware of the timely decisions made by politicians,â€ť he
explains. â€śIn 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.â€ť
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. â€śFrom 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,â€ť said Joseph, who has been passionate about protecting
the environment since childhood.
Joseph chose Fleming Collegeâ€™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.
experience at Frost has been nothing short of amazing!â€ť said Joseph, who
graduated in 2020. â€śThe people on campus
â€“ professors, faculty, and peers â€“ 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
Joseph will be continuing his
education this September in Trent Universityâ€™s Water Sciences degree program,
which he applied to at Fleming Collegeâ€™s annual Education Pathways event. â€śThe
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,â€ť said Joseph.
â€śMy time at Fleming has certainly
played a role in preparing me for my next chapter at Trent University,â€ť he
said. â€śWhile I am sure some parts will be new, I know that the experience â€“ not
only through academics, but practical experience also â€“ I have gained will help
me make a seamless transition to university.â€ť
the shift to essential services began in Canada, Qwhery founder
Matt Pietryszyn noticed the struggle many people faced with finding localized
COVID-19-related information. The Fleming College graduate decided to put
his Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
skills to use and launched a platform to help keep the public informed.
working on another project (ProjectPandemic), I met
Sabrina Tang, owner of SaFuture Inc. We discussed how there was so much
information about COVID-19 cases on the Internet, yet many people still didnâ€™t
know where to get it, in terms of their own communities,â€ť said Matt. â€śWe
decided to collaborate on a solution that would send that localized information
directly to anyone who registered for the daily or weekly notifications.â€ť
platform, which is a collaboration between Qwhery and SaFuture Inc., enables
people to receive local COVID-19-related data directly to their phone for free.
Subscribers receive alerts or daily and weekly summary notifications for
confirmed cases, recoveries, tests and deaths within their health region in
Canada or county in the United States. The COVID-19 Alerts System utilizes
data curated by Esri Canada provided by Health Regions across Canada and Johns
Hopkins University for American data.
felt it important to keep this a free service because we wanted to be able to
help get this information out to everyone who wanted it, with no restrictions
or barriers,â€ť said Matt. â€śWe were able to secure a grant from Twilio, a leader
in SMS technology, and have been able to support and sustain the COVID-19
Alerts System at a very low cost.â€ť
response to the platform has been positive, with people subscribing from all
over North America. â€śAs subscribers to our service continue to receive their
daily notifications, they get a better understanding of the pandemic and whatâ€™s
happening in their own communities,â€ť said Matt.
GIS graduate said he entered the industry in 2003 with confidence and a
head-start thanks to his Fleming College education, which trained him on
industry-standard tools and software and encouraged him to be creative with
projects and assignments.
believe that my experience at Fleming gave me the confidence to enter the
workforce and provided me with a strong network of peers and mentors that
helped me since I graduated,â€ť said Matt. â€śThe faculty was very knowledgeable of
the industry and having that insight shared with me at the beginning of my
career really helped me be confident in my decisions to pursue various roles in
working for the City of Brampton, Esri Canada and the City of Hamilton, Matt
founded Qwhery in August 2019 as a creative outlet to experiment with ideas and
develop solutions to benefit a wide audience. Qwhery is a leader in
implementing voice technology and geographic information systems. Their flagship
product, Q11, connects smart home devices
and voice assistants to local government open data portals, and the Qwhery
cloud helps cities connect their services to residents through smart home
technology, open data and community engagement.
is currently focused on connecting Amazon Alexa and Google Home with Municipal
Open Data, location-based information and services to efficiently provide
citizens with information from their municipality– without needing to search
on a website or call 311.
working in GIS for 17 years and founding Qwhery, Matt continues to use his
Fleming College skills and knowledge and highly recommends the program to those
interested in this career path.
enjoyed my time at Fleming College very much. I got involved through a job at
the computer lab and really immersed myself in the program,â€ť he said. â€śI would
absolutely recommend the GIS program to others, and I do every chance I get.â€ť
For information about Qwhery, Location Intelligence and Voice Tech, please contact Matt Pietryszyn at email@example.com.
As Kim Magee approaches homes in Lindsay, Ont., individuals, couples, families and sometimes even pets emerge from their front doors with a bright smile to greet her. Kim is a Front Porch Project photographer, snapping family portraits from a distance in exchange of a donation. The Fleming College graduate has raised $2,775 in the past four weeks for Kawartha Lakes Food Source.
â€śItâ€™s fun, people loved it! They get to smile and thereâ€™s not a worry on their face in that moment. Theyâ€™re happy and stress-free for a minute amidst it all,â€ť said Kim, who has photographed 48 families, Caressant Care Long Term Care staff, Queenâ€™s Square Pharmacy, South Pond Farms, Action Car and Truck Accessories, and Kawartha Lakes Paramedics, among others.
Kim is one of many photographers participating in the Front Porch Project, where photographers fundraise to help support their communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Kim chose to fundraise for Kawartha Lakes Food Source to help those in need, encouraging financial donations as Kawartha Lakes Food Source can turn every dollar into six dollars worth of food.
She said the experience has been a pleasure for her and has been keeping her busy. In February 2020, all of Kimâ€™s upcoming photography bookings were cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. When a friend told Kim about the Front Porch Project, she jumped at the opportunity to pick up her camera again and make a difference in her community.
â€śIt felt good to be out there shooting because I hadnâ€™t been in a while, and itâ€™s that connection with people,â€ť Kim shared. â€śKnowing weâ€™re all in the same boat right now, it just makes you appreciate the little things more. Iâ€™m capturing this moment in time, and Iâ€™m feeling the love out there because we all need it right now.â€ť
Kim is happy to call Lindsay, Ont. her home after moving from Emo, Ont., near the Minnesota boarder, to take the Fish and Wildlife Technician program at Fleming Collegeâ€™s Frost Campus.
â€śI grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, which was like a National Geographic Channel-type show. Theyâ€™d capture and tag wildlife on the show and my favourite was when they went to Africa,â€ť said Kim, who dreamed of being a wildlife photographer in Africa after learning photography in high school. â€śI found the Fish and Wildlife program perfect for me, because I like to explore fish and wildlife, and it would help towards my dream of being a National Geographic photographer.â€ť
Kim developed many relationships at Frost Campus, including amazing friendships, getting married and starting a family, which is why she decided to stay in Lindsay after graduating in 1992.
â€śThe friendships I made at Frost Campus, including my friendship with the former manager of the Mary Street Residence, they became my family. They are my family and my son views them as aunts and uncles. I got such a great foundation in Lindsay,â€ť said Kim. â€śIt takes a long time in a new community to set roots and make friends. If I hadnâ€™t had those people around me, I probably wouldnâ€™t have stayed. These people are wonderful and itâ€™s all why Iâ€™m still here. Plus, the Lindsay area is also very similar to my hometown. Itâ€™s a great place to be!â€ť
After graduating from Fleming College, Kim worked at a mall photo lab and would display her nature photography in the frames to help sell frames. It wasnâ€™t long until shoppers started asking Kim to photograph their weddings, which she denied for a long time (â€śwhy would I take pictures of people?â€ť she laughs) until she finally agreed to photograph a wedding for $50. She was hooked and has been in the business for 26 years.
â€śMy Fleming College education has stayed with me my whole life. I know how to work with nature in both my personal life and my career,â€ť said Kim. â€śAnd my dream of Africa has never left my head. Iâ€™ll save for the big lenses and one day Iâ€™ll be photographing big cats in South Africa. Thatâ€™s the retirement goal!â€ť
Celeste Thompson’s Fleming College experience has been an international adventure. From field work in Lindsay, Ont., to conservation initiatives in Costa Rica and a conference in Washington, D.C., Celeste is busy building her resume while making memories to last a lifetime.
experience at Fleming so far has been more than I could have dreamed,â€ť said
Celeste, who was born and raised in Orangeville, Ont. â€śThe Ecosystem Management
professors have made a world of difference in making the three years the best
school experience of my life.â€ť
Celeste chose the Ecosystem Management program because she loves being in the natural environment and wanted an environmental career. â€śThe Ecosystem Management programs tie in all ends from wildlife to trees and soil and protocols. It allows for graduates to branch off to many different career paths,â€ť she explains.
After accepting her offer to Fleming College, Celeste attended the Fleming College Open House to explore the Frost Campus before starting classes. She said it helped prepare her for college and recommends the event to future students.
gave me a perspective on what I was going to be getting into. I feel attending
the Open House motivated me and got me more excited to attend college,â€ť she
said. â€śI recommend these events to students thinking about coming to Fleming.â€ť
is happy with her program choice and loves the close-knit Frost Campus
community, which she describes as supportive and feels like family. Her
favourite place at Frost Campus is the back forty, the main location for class
field work, which Celeste credits as the perfect space for environmental
â€śWith full confidence I would recommend the Ecosystem Management program to others. This program has made me the person I am today, and I am positive all students will leave with a special place in their hearts for EM,â€ť said Celeste. â€śI am convinced the work I have done in this program will ensure my success in future endeavours as we cover a wide variety of topics to a professional and high standard.â€ť
Celesteâ€™s favourite Fleming experiences is the two-week field placement in
Parismina, Costa Rica during her second year. Students who
participate in this organized placement experience are selected based on a
rigorous screening process.
experience is something that I will always be appreciative of and drives me to
follow my goals,â€ť said Celeste, who volunteered to support Leatherback sea
turtle conservation initiatives.
Ecosystem Management adventures continued in 2020, kicking off the new year
with a trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Council for Science and the
This conference is organized by the National Council for Science and the Environment and features presentations on new research, innovation, and shows the power of collaboration. It engages more than 800 leaders from the sciences, education, government, policy, business and civil society to foster dialogue on environmental policy.
â€śThis experience was a nice way to start our final semester in this program,â€ť said the third-year Ecosystem Management Technology student. â€śWe gained lots of experience communicating with experts in the environmental field. It allowed us to grow into young professionals who are confident in our work and background.â€ť
addition to the conference experience, Celeste also enjoyed site-seeing in
Washington. She and her peers visited the Smithsonian National Museum of
Natural History, National Air and Space Museum and the Lincoln Memorial.
plans to graduate from the Ecosystem Management Technology program in June
2020. After graduation, she would love to travel and do contract work in her
field. Since Celeste believes in lifelong learning, she may return to Fleming
College to continue her education journey and earn other diplomas in relevant
Ecosystem Management graduate Paul McCarney had an adventurous August on the Leeway Odyssey science vessel with Oceana Canada and the Nunatsiavut Government.
Paul, who is the Research Manager at the Nunatsiavut Government, went on a 10-day expedition to explore the coastal habitats of Nunatsiavut in Northern Labrador.
â€śThis is an area that is important to Inuit communities in
this area, and the marine environment is so important,â€ť said Paul on the
culturally and ecologically significant habitats. â€śWe do a lot of science work,
but thereâ€™s not a lot of science work at the bottom of the oceanâ€”thereâ€™s not
much exploration done there and thatâ€™s the base of the whole habitat. Through
this expedition, weâ€™ll get a better sense of this area, monitor changes, see
the species, and get a better understanding of the ecosystem and whatâ€™s going
on in these areas.â€ť
The team collected data and used cameras to record the
habitats in coastal bays and fjords, including kelp forests, rocky reefs and
open water areas surrounded by seasonal sea ice. Watch this video filmed by
Fleming Environmental Visual Communication graduate Caitlin McManus for a
glimpse of what they discovered.
â€śBeing able to see the foundational part of the habitats and the ocean and the world is extremely productive. We were able to see coral sponges, sea stars, kelp habitatsâ€¦ thereâ€™s so much diversity and weâ€™re able to see it right from the bottom of the ocean,â€ť said Paul on the expedition.
The Fleming College graduate says he uses his education every
day in his role as Research Manager, describing it as key to his career. His
understanding of identification and looking at images in quadrants, assessments,
social and political impacts, and more, are just some of the skills Paul uses
daily that he gained at Fleming.
â€śWhat I love about Fleming is that the programs are
inter-disciplinary. Thereâ€™s a focus on science, and then you apply it to the
social and political issues,â€ť said Paul. â€śAt the Nunatsiavut Government, weâ€™re
not just focused on science, we also protect the Inuit communities, the people
and the environment. So that understanding from Fleming is useful.â€ť
Paul believes in the Ecosystem Management program so much that he came back to teach in the program for two years after graduating. â€śI loved it!â€ť said Paul. â€śI recommend it to everyone Iâ€™ve spoken to. Everyone loves it there.â€ť
Earth Resources Technician Co-op student Mitchell Maracle isnâ€™t afraid of getting his hands dirty, which is why the second-year student is excited to participate in the Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop this May.
Each year, 26 of the top geoscience students
from post-secondary institutions across Canada are nominated to attend this
intense two-week workshop in Sudbury, Ont. This workshop, which is hosted by the
Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, aims to develop future
leaders of the mineral exploration and development industry.
â€śThe Student-Industry Mineral Exploration
Workshop is a highly competitive application process targeted towards university
students, so Mitchellâ€™s acceptance is a big deal,â€ť said Joanna Hodge, Earth
Resources Technician Co-op program coordinator. â€śI am very proud of Mitchell
for his well-deserved acceptance and I know he will make Fleming College proud
when he goes to Sudbury this May.â€ť
Mitchell is looking forward to the networking
opportunity, as well as learning more about the mineral exploration field.
â€śI did my program co-op in the Yukon, helping to find economically viable mineral deposits, and I want to learn more about the industry,â€ť said Mitchell, referring to his co-op placement at Big River Mineral Exploration. At his co-op placement, Mitchell sampled soil, staked claims, worked as a drill hand and at the sluice box, and panned for gold, among other responsibilities.
â€śI like this career because I like history, and
this is the earthâ€™s history, but you can find work in it. I also like that itâ€™s
science, so itâ€™s great!â€ť said the Fleming student.
Mitchell decided to take Flemingâ€™s Earth
Resources Technician Co-op program after earning his degree in Geography and
Environmental Studies at Carleton University and travelling Australia. When he
returned to Canada for a friendâ€™s wedding, Mitchell decided he wanted to gain
more hands-on skills and train towards a career.
â€śWhen I came back to Canada, I decided I should
get my career going and the ERT program was right up my alley. Iâ€™m glad I chose
it, itâ€™s been perfect,â€ť said Mitchell. â€śI like how hands-on and informative the
program is, and I like that the class sizes are smallerâ€”I know all of the
professors and students, and the professors care if youâ€™re struggling with
After he graduates from Fleming College,
Mitchell plans to continue his studies at Acadia University, using Flemingâ€™s
education pathway to earn his Bachelor of Science in Geology with two
additional years of study after Fleming.
â€śI enjoy learning and feel itâ€™d be better to
specialize in the field,â€ť explains Mitchell. â€śIâ€™m passionate about earth
sciences and I want to learn more!â€ť
â€śEcosystem Management not only educates me on how I can
make a difference for the animals I care about, I get hands-on
experience every week!â€ť she explains. â€śI love studying Ecology because the more I learn, the more I can
see how everything and every action is connected in some way. Itâ€™s both
incredibly challenging and beautiful to realize how weâ€™re all linked together.â€ť
student says she loves the hands-on learning opportunities that Fleming College
offers, as well as the amazing faculty.
â€śI love having the
opportunity to be in the field practicing the skills Iâ€™ll use in my future
career,â€ť she said. â€śPaired with having
the most passionate and experienced faculty who truly take the time to know
youâ€¦ itâ€™s a unique experience!â€ť
academics, Hilary loves participating in the fun clubs and activities at Frost
Campus. As a member of the Foraging and Bushcraft Club, Hilary explores acres
of campus land with her club members searching for plants they can eat or craft
into tools. She also loves Aukâ€™s Lodge events, such as karaoke night, pub
night, and even a Bob Ross-themed paint night.
â€śThere are so many
fun things to do on campus!â€ť said Hilary, whose advice to new Frost Campus
students is to get involved and try as many things as you can. â€śWhether itâ€™s operating a drill rig, climbing a tree or trying
your hand at Loggersports, there are so many once-in-a-lifetime events you
donâ€™t want to miss out on!â€ť
Next semester, Hilary is
excited to have another once-in-a-lifetime experience: she is travelling to
Hilary and a group of Ecosystem
Management students are spending the winter semester abroad through a partnership with the Askari Wilderness
â€śEvery year, up to 10 students from EM get to spend their fourth
semester living on a wildlife conservation reserve in South Africa,â€ť said
Hilary. â€śI canâ€™t wait to experience this for myself!â€ť
Hilary is enjoying her Fleming
College experience so much that she is now a Social Media Ambassador with
Flemingâ€™s Marketing Department. She is creating social media content, such as
Instagram Story videos and Facebook photos, that highlights her experience at
canâ€™t wait to show everyone the crazy things we as students get to do
everyday!â€ť said Hilary. â€śWhether weâ€™re in the field planting trees, in the lab
analyzing invertebrates or enjoying a pub night down in the Auks Lodge, weâ€™re
always up to something new and exciting!â€ť
Hengda came to Fleming Collegeâ€™s Frost Campus as an
international student from China, wanting to learn everything about nature.
â€śJust like many other Forestry Technician students, instead of
working behind a desk we want nature to be our office,â€ť he said. â€śI want to be
one of those forestry professionals to seek the harmony zone between our
economic needs and ecological sustainability. This is why I chose the Forestry
Technician program: its outdoors, meaningful, hands-on – get my hands and boots
dirty – and I get to stay in the environment where Iâ€™m supposed to be in.â€ť
He credits the College for its efforts on making Frost Campus sustainable,
and appreciates the warm and welcoming campus community.
â€śThe faculty, staff and students here at Fleming are incredibly
friendly and warm. They have never treated me differently because I am from
another country or because of my language barrier,â€ť said Hengda. â€śI have always
felt like a part of the Fleming family, and I am really proud and grateful for
Hengda said the Forestry Technician program combines theory with
hands-on experience to prepare students for their careers, including fundamental
skills courses like communications and applied mathematics, as well as forestry
skills courses like forest inventory and forest management using GIS, among
others. He describes the faculty as very supportive, helpful and â€ślightning
fastâ€ť to respond to emails.
â€śIâ€™ve truly learned a lot during my time here at Fleming and I
want to pat my own back to thank myself for choosing Fleming. Great job,
Hengda!â€ť he laughs, patting his back.
The programs two field camps were Hengdaâ€™s favourite experience at Fleming. At The Canadian Ecology Centre and Haliburton Forest, students learned how to safely operate a chainsaw, canoed to an island to do a stream assessment, participated in tree planting, took forest inventory, and more.
â€śWe basically combined the knowledge we learned in school and applied it to the real world during these two camps, with the help and supervision of forestry professionals who are working in the industry,â€ť said Hengda, who also enjoyed networking with experienced technicians and forest managers at the field camps.
Outside of class, Hengda worked part-time at a local Chinese restaurant, Friendly Restaurant, which improved his English speaking skills and cooking skills.
â€śI am an okay chef now,â€ť he said. â€śI love to cook some Chinese
food for my friends sometimes and the smiles on their faces while they are
eating my dishes is such a priceless reward.â€ť
Moments such as this are treasured memories to Hengda, who enjoys documenting life and has a passion for video editing. He created a YouTube channel to share his Fleming experiences with others, including this beautiful tribute video for the teachers, technicians and staff of Flemingâ€™s Forestry and Urban Forestry programs.
Now that Hengda has completed classes at Frost Campus, he is working full-time as a Forestry Technician at Spectrum Resource Group, a forestry consulting company in Prince George, British Columbia.
â€śLast shift, we went to a
logging camp in a place called Ospika, BC, where you canâ€™t even find it on the
map! Itâ€™s a mountainous area and we were constantly climbing a 75% slope with
tons of blowdowns and devilâ€™s clubs,â€ť he explained. â€śItâ€™s tough but I loved
every single piece of it. Itâ€™s a dream come true for me.â€ť
He plans to continue
growing his career in this field, and hopes to one day lead others in
sustainable forest management and to enhance communication between Canada and
China in terms of forestry.
â€śWhat I love about the
Forestry Technician career path is that it is outdoors,â€ť he said. â€śAs a
Forestry Technician, we are literally getting paid to walk in the forest. The
forest is my office, birds and wild animals are my sidekicks. Nature is where I
came from and I want to be there for the rest of my life.â€ť