Where are they now? Intern Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Ryckman
This blog marks the fifth Intern Alumni Spotlight; a series highlighting some of the individuals who have interned with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in the past. Last month, Sheena Briggs was featured as the Intern Alumni Spotlight and this month we are following up with Andrew Ryckman.
Where he started: Growing up, Andrew spent time at his family cottage in central Ontario. This led him to develop a deep respect and appreciation for nature, and it ultimately inspired him to pursue an honours bachelor of science degree, majoring in zoology, at the University of Guelph.
As an intern: Andrew’s internship with NCC began in the summer of 2005. As a Conservation Intern, he was responsible for conducting wildlife and vegetation inventories, as well as developing site-specific habitat management plans for NCC properties. Andrew also delivered outreach activities to engage local landowners and assisted with Conservation Volunteers events.
Where he is now: Andrew has worked for Natural Resources Solutions Inc. (NRSI) for nearly 13 years. He is the senior biologist and head of the Renewable Energy Branch. In this role, Andrew oversees the biological monitoring and impact assessments associated with proposed wind and solar energy developments across Canada. His job also involves managing a team that completes habitat assessments and species inventories, and develops site-specific mitigation strategies to minimize, or avoid, potential effects of these developments on the environment.
He has also given numerous presentations at national and international conferences and workshops on the topic of wildlife interactions with wind energy.
Where he is going: Andrew is passionate about the role he plays in conserving the environment and he hopes to maintain his current trajectory with NRSI.
Brielle Reidlinger (BR): How did your internship with NCC contribute to your professional journey?
Andrew Ryckman (AR): My internship with NCC was an exceptionally valuable experience in my career path. Participating in this program provided me with a solid background and general experience. During my time with NCC, I was able to put previous experience into practice, but I was also constantly reminded (in a good way) that there is a never-ending supply of new information to soak in.
My internship gave me a solid understanding of common impacts and threats to natural areas and sensitive species, the foundation of which I still rely on today.
BR: What skills do you think are the most important for those working in the environmental sector?
AR: The most valuable skills to work in the environmental sector, in my opinion, are an open mind and an appetite for knowledge.
Working in an environmental setting with a closed mind will result in slow personal and career growth. Being open to the information around you will only grow your knowledge and allow you to continually evolve your own unique and informed approach to critical thinking.
An appetite for knowledge may be self-explanatory, but since the environmental sector is constantly growing and evolving, it is important to understand that things are not static. An appetite for new information will ensure that you stay engaged in your career and that you always strive to do the best job you can.
BR: Did your internship with NCC provide you with the opportunity to develop any of these skills?
AR: Absolutely! Working closely with a vegetation specialist, an area that I had less familiarity in, immediately opened my mind to a whole new ecosystem and species groups that I had never put much thought into before.
This is what first exposed me to the vast amount of information that truly existed within the environmental sector. Throughout my summer with NCC, I was continually working on new projects, conservation lands and with different species, so it seemed like a never-ending increase in available information.
BR: What advice would you give your younger self?
AR: Looking back at my younger self, I would encourage me to ask more questions of those around me and try to absorb as much information as I could. When you can take a step back and understand your surroundings, you can really apply that information to other situations and settings.
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.