By: Trevor Oattes
MVCA Communications Assistant
Whether wading through waist high streams during a heatwave, collecting mud samples from cold lakes or identifying bottom feeding insects, working as a monitoring student at Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority can be a tough job. The work is physically demanding and the environment rarely wants to lend a helping hand.
And yet, every summer, a team of dedicated young environmentalists come together to tackle the tasks at hand.
The monitoring department’s biggest summer project is City Stream Watch, a program focused on determining the health of streams and creeks within the City of Ottawa. Monitoring and Stewardship Supervisor Kelly Stiles and her crew wade through the water in an effort to measure the changes to the stream over time. The crew also keeps an eye out for any invasive and endangered species. Earlier this summer, the crew found an American eel in Poole Creek; a new sighting for that particular section of the Carp River watershed.
“The students get a lot out of it, because they actually get to see how their education can be applied in the real world,” said Stiles. “They see how our conservation authority works, and they get an idea of employment opportunities in the environmental sector for when they graduate.”
Stiles started her career with the organization as a monitoring student 13 years ago. As a biology and environmental sciences student at Trent University, she took on the summer position to gain useful experience in her field. As luck would have it, Stiles managed to secure a permanent job with the MVCA soon after graduating university. In her 13 year career, Stiles has seen many bright young students reap the benefits of summer employment.
While most monitoring students study environmental science, they come from a variety of different backgrounds, from biology and engineering to teaching and nursing.
“Ever since a young age I’ve been fishing and spending time outdoors,” said monitoring student James Croft, who is currently studying engineering at the University of Ottawa. “I wanted to make sure that I did my part so that one day future generations will have the same experiences with nature that I had.”
Once graduated, Croft hopes to find employment in water resource management, an interest that he gained from working at MVCA.
“It’s great, because it provides the students with hands-on experience and allows us to collect valuable environmental information at the same time,” said Stiles.