I have had the privilege of working for Watersheds Canada for the past three summers while studying at Queen’s University. I am writing this blog, reflecting on my three wonderful summers, on my very last day with them. I have grown and learned so much which has truly been a one of a kind experience.
It was an odd match at first – I’m in geological engineering and Watersheds is a non-profit organization dedicated to our lakes and rivers, but I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity to spend half my summer getting paid to be outside touring lakes in Eastern Ontario. I was the assistant to the Love Your Lake program and helped with the very first summer of the pilot of the new program. I came back the following summer and actually completed the surveys myself and in my last year, I think I have almost perfected the delivery of the Love Your Lake program.
I have witnessed Watersheds Canada change from the Centre for Sustainable Watersheds along with office relocations and developing a professional and respectable national charity in less than three years! It’s really neat to get a phone call at work from CBC asking to speak the executive director, Barbara King.
Barb is a spectacular person to work for. Just the other day, we were talking in the office and we mentioned how she is the complete opposite of a micro-manager. She gives her students responsibility because she trusts they will do a good job. It’s great to be able to come in to work and already know what you’re doing that day – I don’t have to constantly ask for a new task because I have one large project for the whole summer. I don’t really feel like a summer student anymore, but rather another co-worker who is on contract.
Barb has given me so much opportunity as well; I’ve helped with training across Ontario, taken a course at Trent University, delivered presentations at local AGM’s, and helped hire a summer student. I even drove the company truck once or twice, which was pretty fun.
As I’m sitting here writing this, I realized that my favourite part of the job has become giving presentations to lake associations and cottagers. I am quite shy and used to be really scared of presenting. It gives you a sense of accomplishment when you get to speak to the landowners afterwards because you see how your work is affecting people. You can see that you’re making a real change and sparking interest in waterfront property owners about caring for our lakes. Even my dad has become more interested in maintaining his waterfront property! During the Sharbot Lake AGM this summer, I had quite a few questions about the program, and one older man raised his hand and said, “I just wanted to say, I got my (shoreline property) report and just LOVED it!” It’s comments like that, that make you love your job even more!
Working in the environmental sector for three summers has really given me an appreciation for the environment and the importance of conserving our lakes and rivers. This job has helped me envision myself in a career in hydrogeology and contaminant remediation – a way I can use my degree to do my part in conserving our environment.
This summer work experience has been anything short of amazing. I LOVE MY JOB!