Where are they now? Intern Alumni Spotlight: Brett Norman

Brett Norman leading a hike at Backus Woods, ON (Photo by Len Grincevicius)

Brett Norman leading a hike at Backus Woods, ON (Photo by Len Grincevicius)

April 9, 2019 | by Craig Doucette

This blog marks the ninth 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, Claire Elliott was featured as the Intern Alumni Spotlight, and this month we are following up with Brett Norman.

Where he started: Brett was part of the first class in the ecological restoration program at Fleming College. He received a diploma from there before continuing on to Trent University, where he received an honours bachelor of science degree in in ecological restoration. “It was a great program, and it fit really well with my career trajectory,”he says.

As an intern: Brett was a 2011 NCC conservation intern based in the Norfolk Forest and Long Point Wetland focal area. Much of Brett’s time as an intern was split between conducting forest monitoring for the Managed Forest Tax Incentive Program and helping to upgrade trail infrastructure in NCC’s newly acquired Backus Woods property. Describing his work at Backus Woods, Brett says, “It involved identifying infrastructure needs, developing a trail management contract and making sure the proper trail upgrades (boardwalk installation and trail clearing) were occurring as planned.”

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Where he is now:  Following his internship, Brett was hired as an assistant conservation biologist in 2012, and today he is the conservation biology coordinator for the Norfolk Forest and Long Point Wetland focal area. In this role, he oversees the stewardship of 5,600 acres (2,266 hectares) of land in the heart of Carolinian Canada. This involves much of the same activities as when he was an intern, but also includes coordinating NCC’s restoration efforts, managing invasive species, anddealing with tenants and agricultural leases in the area.

Brett seeding a restoration site (Photo by NCC)

Brett seeding a restoration site (Photo by NCC)

“The job I have now is my dream job! I get to work outside, hike on trails, drive ATVs and all that fun stuff. More importantly, I get to make an impact on the area where I grew up (I grew up about five minutes away from the focal area that I manage now), so I get to see the changes to the property and the impact I am having on the area. That is something I don’t take for granted.”

Where he is going: While Brett admits that he can’t stay in this position for the rest of his life, in the next 10 years he would like to be in a position with a little more influence and a focus on restoration. This might involve working with partners and influencing restoration on a landscape scale. “Where I see myself in the next 10 years is less about a position title and more about the impact I can have.”

Brett at Long Point, ON (Photo courtesy of Brett Norman/NCC staff)

Brett at Long Point, ON (Photo courtesy of Brett Norman/NCC staff)

His advice for interns: “Feel free to travel and enjoy the experience. In my experience with technicians or interns, they are hesitant to travel far from home. I understand that sometimes there are financial reasons for that, and sometimes they are frustrated because they are going contract to contract. That said, in conducting interviews and talking with other interns in the past, the experiences they gain (not just work experience, but life experiences), and the memories they get from travelling and doing contract-to-contract jobs has really imparted something on them. And I think it makes them either a better employee or a better person, in the long run. You have to keep your future in mind, but you should enjoy the experiences.”

Are you interested in building a career in conservation? Check out NCC's Conservation Internship Program for more information on current opportunities!

Craig Doucette (Photo courtesy of Craig Doucette)

About the Author

Craig Doucette joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada team in October 2018. Fascinated by the connections between wildlife and the habitats they occupy, he studied wildlife biology and ecosystem management at the University of Guelph and Fleming College.

Read more about Craig Doucette.

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