Hear what former ABMI field technologists have to say about their experiences monitoring Alberta’s biodiversity across the province.
Current position: Research Assistant, Applied Conservation Ecology Lab, University of Alberta
ABMI Summer field technologist experience: 4 seasons, North Terrestrial
"Working with the ABMI as a summer technologist was one of my best working experiences. I had done previous field jobs, but with this position, I was able to really develop my field skills and learn new ones. The field methods I learned at ABMI, such as field navigation, plot measurements, ecosite classification, and forest stand measurements, are widely applicable skills for any future work. I was able to expand on and develop my vascular plant identification skills, which is an extremely valuable skill to have. These experiences have helped me considerably in my current job as a research assistant, as I am responsible for designing and conducting my own field research, as well as assisting my colleagues’ with their research and field work.
And of course, in addition to the great learning experience, working as a summer field tech for the ABMI was the most fun job I’ve ever had! I flew in a helicopter for the first time, learned the best ways to get my quad unstuck, worked in remote places where few people had ever gone, swam in lakes high on the Canadian shield that were only accessible by helicopter, and saw species I’d never seen before. I formed lasting friendships with field partners and other technicians, and formed a network of peers and supervisors that actually helped me find work outside of the ABMI.
I would happily recommend this position with the ABMI to anyone looking for a great way to spend their summer, exploring remote areas of Alberta, building valuable field skills, and working with a great group of people!"
Current position: Environmental Assessment Scientist, Parks Canada-Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay Field Unit
ABMI Summer field technologist experience: 2 seasons, North Aquatic
"Working with the ABMI was a huge benefit to my life due to the work experience and new skills I gained. I learned to work on a wide variety of environmental elements, manage field work in remote locations, use and organize many different types of equipment and work effectively as part of a team. These experiences definitely helped me further my environmental career and helped me obtain my current position with Parks Canada.
I was a ground access (non-remote) aquatic tech, and I was responsible for conducting aquatic protocols in wetlands across the northern boreal region of Alberta. This position required quite a bit of field gear, including an inflatable kayak, all of which was packed onto an ATV or carried on my back through unexplored northern bogs to access the site for the day. I was responsible for using a GPS to paddle my boat in straight lines around the wetland, taking depth measurements at specific intervals which was very difficult to do when it was even a bit windy or when my paddling skills were lacking that day! There was a lot to do in the field, but after the field work was done, our work wasn’t complete. There were still daily tasks to do such as checking data, and disinfecting all of the field gear so it was ready for the next site. Some days could definitely feel long and tiring. But it was also so rewarding, especially when we had the opportunity to see some absolutely beautiful places that no one else gets to go to. My field partner and I even got to experience some rare magical moments. For example, on one particularly tough day that included a downpour and lightning storm, the dark clouds finally parted to reveal a big beautiful mother moose with her calf just across the wetland, feeding on aquatic plants right in front of us.
My favourite part of the job was all of the personal connections and lifelong friends I gained. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve worked with the ABMI, I still call my field partners some of my best friends and I keep in touch with so many of the other techs I worked with. We still get together for camping adventures each summer. Working as an ABMI field technologist was one of the best jobs I’ve had because it was challenging, fun, an amazing learning opportunity and I gained lifelong friends."
Current position: Master’s student in journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa
ABMI Summer field technologist experience: 3 seasons, North Remote Aquatic
"Working as a summer field technologist with the ABMI was one of the best jobs I've ever had. Every day was an adventure and every day had a puzzle. It's hard to beat a job, where your "office" is a tent and the commute involves a helicopter. I made some really good friends, that I hold dear to my heart and will continue to do so until the end of my days. I'm now doing a master’s in journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa. My thesis for my masters is on oil and gas development in Alberta, an idea I was introduced to while working for ABMI where I had the opportunity to see how oil and gas impact the landscape. Who knows what I would currently be studying if it wasn't for ABMI, perhaps something drab like basket weaving. Thank you ABMI for adding much-needed colour and excitement to my life. "
Current position: Project Coordinator, Hamilton Naturalists' Club, Hamilton, Ontario.
ABMI Summer field technologist experience: 2 seasons, South Terrestrial
"I joined the ABMI for the adventure, and was well-rewarded with varied sites every day, incredible glimpses into wildlife, and travelling across this gorgeous province. The hands-on, accelerated learning and extensive training has bolstered my career; from vegetation ID skills to a microscopic exploration of lichen and moss, I continue to use the techniques we explored in my current role. Working with a team of passionate and like-minded people, I value the friendships forged during my time with ABMI and the experiences we shared!"