Talking about prairie seed collection, ON (Photo by NCC)

Talking about prairie seed collection, ON (Photo by NCC)

Shrike spotting, Powell-East, ON (Photo by NCC)

Shrike spotting, Powell-East, ON (Photo by NCC)

Meet Ontario’s technicians

Every summer, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) brings on a new team of enthusiastic, dedicated and ambitious young interns. These technicians, as they are known in Ontario, are vital to our stewardship work. They work closely with field staff to monitor NCC’s many properties, remove invasive species, organize volunteer events, and they are the face of NCC in the communities where they work.

Justin Brodeur

Justin Brodeur, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Justin Brodeur, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Midland, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Ecosystem management technology at Fleming College.

Where you are working?: Central Ontario west; Happy Valley Forest.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: I chose to work with the NCC in the Happy Valley Forest to help expand my fieldwork skills and ecological knowledge.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The best thing so far is spending time working in one of the largest, most intact forests on the Oak Ridges Moraine.

Kayla Ellis

Kayla Ellis, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Kayla Ellis, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Otterville, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Bachelor of environmental studies (York University), certified environmental technician (Seneca).

Where you are working?: Southwestern Ontario; Norfolk Forests and Long Point Wetlands, including Backus Woods and Gravelly Bay.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: Working for NCC was an easy choice! As a charity, NCC is committed to conserving nature for the future; this is aligned with my ethics and occupational goals. Overall, NCC is a great fit for me and significant experience along my career path.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The best experiences this summer have been getting to know the area’s flora and fauna. This includes a boat trip out to Gravelly Bay to observe some rare flowering plants, and a sleepover at the research station, where I heard whip-poor-wills. More recently, I had the opportunity to track down a gray ratsnake, my first time ever observing one in the wild! I cannot wait to see what else is around the corner; this is definitely an exciting field season so far.

Katie Cook

Katie Cook, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Katie Cook, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Washago, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Master of science in environmental life sciences.

Where you are working?: Central Ontario west; Carden and Minesing 

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: Working with NCC for the past three summers has allowed me to grow my resumé from basic field work and report writing skills to planning and leading projects both in the field and in the office. I love being able to really own a project and see it through from start to finish.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: This year we paddled to a property on an island in Georgian Bay and camped out overnight so that we could conduct an early morning bird survey on the property. We were woken through the night by the sounds of deer walking outside our tents. It was lovely!

Kristen Glass

Kristen Glass, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Kristen Glass, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Barrie, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Ecosystem management technology, Sir Sanford Fleming College.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: Volunteering with NCC when I was in school is what made me want to work here! The hands-on, ecological work really put my education to use, and I truly felt I was making a difference. Working at NCC I learn something new every day and that’s what’s brought me back for a second year of interning.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: Seeing snakes (including the smooth green snake and the gray ratsnake) as well as porcupines, weasels and even an otter!

Amber Lammers

Amber Lammers, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Amber Lammers, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: London, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Bachelor of science in wildlife biology and conservation.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario; Frontenac Arch.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: I chose to work with NCC to have the opportunity to explore and help conserve some of Ontario’s most unique ecosystems.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The best thing about the field season is going to the office at Elbow Lake and seeing all different kinds of wildlife, including gray ratsnakes and turtles.

Chelsea Wallace

Chelsea Wallace, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Chelsea Wallace, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Woodstock, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Bachelor (honours) in biology and post-graduate diploma in environmental monitoring and impact assessment.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario; Frontenac Arch and Ottawa area.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: I support NCC's values and I wanted to play a role in conserving Canada's natural places and biodiversity.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: Working with like-minded individuals on a daily basis as well as seeing my first gray ratsnake and map turtle.

Ally Belanger

Ally Belanger, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Ally Belanger, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Beeton, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Environmental technology, Sir Sanford Fleming School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario; Frontenac Arch. Central Ontario east; Rice Lake Plains.

Why did you chose to work with NCC: I chose to work at NCC this summer because I have a strong interest and passion for the preservation and conservation of the natural environment.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: One of my summer highlights so far would have to be rescuing a threatened Blanding’s turtle. She was injured and my field partner and I admitted her to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre for treatment and rehabilitation so she can soon be released back to the wild.

Victoria Shore

Victoria Shore, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Victoria Shore, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Ottawa, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: I earned a bachelor of science degree in biology and classical studies from the University of Western Ontario, and followed that up with a post-graduate certificate in ecosystem restoration from Niagara College.

Where you are working?: Central Ontario east; Rice Lake Plains, Hazel Bird Property, Napanee Plains, Taylor Nature Preserve, Trout Creek Headwaters and Wilenroth Woods.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: I have a passion for nature and I’ve dedicated my education to learning how to take care of it. So when it came to taking a job with NCC, it was really a no-brainer.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The best part of my field season happened while I was leading a group of volunteers for the annual Rice Lake Plains butterfly count. Our first stop was at the Hazel Bird Nature Reserve one of my favourite properties. All season I’d been told about the eastern hog-nosed snakes at Hazel Bird, but despite many searches, I had yet to see one. I had basically given up hope. Sure enough, within 15 minutes of being on the property, we spotted one under a pine tree. I didn’t think the day could get any better. Then, an hour later one of my volunteers called me over to her. I thought she’d found a cool butterfly that she needed help identifying, but really it was another hog-nosed snake! That’s definitely going to be a tough day to beat.

Cameron Curran

Cameron Curran, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Cameron Curran, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Stoney Creek, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Bachelor of environmental studies, geography & environmental management.

Where you are working?: Central Ontario east; Rice Lake Plains.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: NCC embodies a mission that aligns well with my personal and professional interests. I enjoy camping and nature photography in my spare time. So having the opportunity to be immersed in the natural environment as part of my job is both spectacular and rewarding.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: Helping restore black oak savannah, oak woodland and tallgrass prairie habitats. Also, coming across species that call the Oak Ridges Moraine home, such as bobolink, eastern meadowlark, barred owl, upland sandpiper and porcupine.

Meidan Leiderman

Meidan Leiderman, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Meidan Leiderman, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Vaughan, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Ecosystem management at Sir Sandford Fleming College School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: Contributing directly to land and wildlife conservation is what I wanted to do after college and I knew that working at NCC would satisfy this desire and more.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: Being immersed in the beautiful landscape of eastern Ontario and finding such a great diversity of wildlife has been very rewarding, even more so with the guidance and mentorship from NCC full-time staff.

Vicki Simkovic

Vicki Simkovic, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Vicki Simkovic, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: London Ontario.

Where you are working: Midwestern Ontario; Saugeen Bruce Peninsula.

Area of study/degree: Ecology & evolutionary biology.

Why you chose to work with NCC?: I was searching for an opportunity that would allow me to express my lifelong passion for nature and contribute towards making a lasting difference in conservation. I gained a great respect for NCC's mission to protect wild spaces through my involvement as a former volunteer, where I helped with restoration efforts and removing invasive species. Getting involved with NCC has been an incredible opportunity to expand my skills towards becoming a professional biologist, and the conservation technician position uniquely offers a wide variety of different experiences to grow and expand. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit many unique ecosystems and survey for rare and fascinating species this summer.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The field season began with an intense week of queensnake surveys. The weather was still cold on the first day (felt like 0 C!) as we canoed and portaged through the lake, carefully flipping hundreds of rocks and scanning the shrubby vegetation in search of the elusive queensnake. Long spans of time would elapse before finding one and search efforts would eventually result in sore muscles, but each time a queensnake was found, there was a rush of excitement that made all the search efforts worthwhile. It was like finding a rare gem in the field. Through our surveys we also came across other interesting snake and bird species, including a ring-necked snake, northern watersnake, ribbonsnake and DeKay's brownsnake, American bittern and sandhill cranes.

Daniel Black

Daniel Black, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Daniel Black, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Kitchener, Ontario

Area of study/degree: Environmental science, fish and wildlife diploma.

Where you are working?: Eastern Ontario; Rice Lake Plains, Frontenac Arch.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: To gain experience with an organization that has a rich, productive history of conservation throughout Canada.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: Monitoring species at risk out in the field alongside other passionate people who care about our local wildlife!

Chelsea Marcantonio

Chelsea Marcantonio, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Chelsea Marcantonio, conservation technician, Ontario (Photo by NCC)

Home town: Pelham, Ontario.

Area of study/degree: Niagara College environmental technician – field & laboratory diploma

Where you are working?: Midwestern Ontario; Saugeen Bruce Peninsula, Manitoulin and Cockburn Islands.

Why did you chose to work with NCC?: I want to go to university to continue my education in environmental sciences so I thought working with NCC would help me narrow down what aspects of nature I am the most passionate about. This way, I can gear my education towards that particular field.

Best thing so far about this summer’s field season: The best thing so far about this summer’s field season has been learning from all of the brilliant environmentalists I’ve had the chance to meet. I am definitely always down to learn more about my natural surroundings; however, my mind will always be blown away with how intricate nature really is. This is a field of study where I will forever be learning.

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