Where are they now? Intern Alumni Spotlight: Sheena Briggs
This blog marks the fourth Alumni Spotlight, a series highlighting some of the individuals who have interned with the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) in the past. Last month, Josh Noseworthy was featured as the Alumni Spotlight, and this month we are following up with Sheena Briggs.
Where she started: Sheena first started at Lakeland College in Vermillion, Alberta. There, she completed a bachelor’s degree in conservation and restoration ecology. Through the program, she learned about habitat conservation and gained a deeper understanding of the role that non-profit organizations play in that sphere.
From there, Sheena transferred to the University of Alberta (U of A) to complete a major in land reclamation. She was also an active member of the range team at the U of A, where she tuned up her grazing management and plant identification skills.
As an intern: Sheena first began working for NCC’s Alberta Region as a Conservation Intern in 2008. Throughout her time as an intern, she monitored conservation sites and did stewardship work. She gained invaluable experience with plant identification and learned to problem solve while working with a team.
Where she is now: After her internship with NCC, Sheena went on to work for an environmental consulting company, as well as with the Alberta and BC provincial governments. Sheena gained a lot of great experience in these positions. In 2017, she returned to NCC as the stewardship coordinator for NCC in the BC southern interior sub-region. In her role with NCC, Sheena managed the day-to-day operations on NCC’s conservation properties. This included regular property inspections, managing grazing leases, controlling invasive species and maintaining property fencing. She was also responsible for writing multiple property management plans and baselines inventories. Sheena recently moved on from NCC at the end of October to take the next step in her career.
Where she is going: Sheena’s heart has always been in conservation, so she sees herself in this field, connecting people to land management, for the long haul.
Brielle Reidlinger (BR): How did your internship with NCC contribute to your professional journey?
Sheena Briggs (SB): My internship with NCC was my second field position during college and university, and it really just kicked things off for me. It was my first job in the conservation field where I was really challenged to use technology, manage logistics and develop my communication skills. It gave me the experience I needed to complement what I learned in college.
BR: What skills do you think are most important for anyone working in the environmental sector?
SB: Keeping up your technology skills by learning how to use the most recent technology or equipment. I also think it is really important to develop resourcefulness — being able to look at a problem and work efficiently to solve it.
BR: Did your internship with NCC provide you with the opportunity to develop any of these skills?
SB: Yes. We worked pretty independently. We had to manage our own data, make sure our work plan was on track, and we were responsible for liaising with landowners.
BR: Why do you think it is important for young professionals to be interested/employed in the environmental sector?
SB: I think the environmental sector is growing, and it is a really good time for people to get into it. You know that population and industry are never going to slow down. It is such a great field to be in when you’re young, have energy and want to experience fun things.
BR: What advice would you give your younger self?
SB: Get in there and try all kinds of things. I felt like any little summer job was going to write the rest of the story of what I was going to do. I was at a volunteer event a little while ago and there was a student who was talking about how he couldn’t get a job. I suggested to him to go get a landscaping job, get any job related to the environmental field, as it all builds skills and experience. Try everything, volunteer where you can and don’t be afraid to get out there.
The Conservation Internship Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program.