Valedictorian David Hale says college is more than good grades and graduating

david-haleWhen David Hale enrolled in the Ecosystem Management Technician program, he entered Fleming College’s Frost Campus with the mindset of earning good grades and graduating as quickly as possible. But after making connections with people and learning more about the natural world, his point of view changed on what he wanted from his college experience.

“The Frost Campus community was awesome, from the front desk workers to the cafeteria staff, the teachers and the students. I found it incredibly unique and I think this is mostly because we all have a common interest: to work in the outdoors and preserve the natural environment,” David explained. “The community is very tight knit and you get to know students from a number of different disciplines as well as your own.”

David decided to take Fleming’s Ecosystem Management program after realizing he could turn his passion for the environment into a career.

“When I exited high school I thought my passion for the outdoors was only a hobby, but after taking an unrelated program in university I decided to try and turn it into a career,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about what I was passionate about.”

Over the past two years, David learned plant identification, ecosystem classification, soil and water sampling techniques, and how to design research studies. He also developed personal skills, such as leadership and teamwork.

David with a 6.5 tonne elephant being relocated
David with a 6.5 tonne elephant being relocated

“My most memorable experience from my time at Fleming was, without a doubt, being able to spend my final semester abroad at Pidwa Wilderness Reserve in South Africa,” said David. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. We saw the most incredible things on a daily basis and we got to meet the most amazing people. While there, we also got to further develop all of the practical skills we learned in Lindsay.”

David graduated from Fleming College this month and served as Valedictorian for the School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences on Friday, June 1 at convocation.

“I hope that people feel a sense of pride after my valedictorian speech,” he said. “Fleming College is very well recognized and being a graduate is a great accomplishment.”

The Class of 2018 graduate said he would recommend the Ecosystem Management program to anyone wanting to gain practical knowledge and skills in the environmental field. He credits the program with placing a huge emphasis on preparing students for their job search, including resume building and interview techniques, as well as covering academic topics and research skills.

“Personally, I found that the best part of the program was the faculty; as long as you work hard, the teachers will do anything to make sure you get everything you wanted out of the program and then some,” said David. “The fact that you can compete to spend a semester in South Africa is just one more thing that makes Fleming’s Ecosystem Management program unlike any other!”

Next year, David plans to attend Trent University for Conservation Biology. His ultimate career goal is to work abroad in conservation.

“Frost Campus is a special place and I know I’ll be carrying it with me as I move on in the future,” he added.