Every Spring/Summer term, students in Scheme A of the Master of Sustainability program take the skills and knowledge gained in the classroom out into the field as they begin their co-op work terms. This year, six SSAS students have secured employment across the Niagara Region and GTA. We caught up with two of our students, Kassie Burns and Evan Rodenburg, and spoke to them about their co-op experiences thus far.
Kassie Burns is working for the Niagara Parks Commission as an Environmental Stewardship Student Labourer. Kassie is part of the Environmental Stewardship Team at NPC, which works toward creating a healthy environment along the Niagara River Corridor. Some of the main tasks she’s worked on concern invasive species management and tree planting. In addition to these activities, Kassie has participated in community outreach projects to help deliver educational programming, communications, and demonstrations.
When asked about how her first year in the SSAS program has contributed to her success in her co-op job, Kassie responded “My course work in the Master of Sustainability program has significantly contributed to the success I have experienced thus far in my co-op role. I regularly use the skills and knowledge I gained from my studies, particularly from Landscape Ecology and Ecosystem Management (SSAS 5P13) utilizing geospatial technologies and project planning and management in Problem Solving in the Environment (SSAS 5P03)”.
Evan Rodenburg is working for Brock University as a Sustainability Data Analyst. In this role, Evan has been tasked with overseeing and collecting data for Brock University’s annual STARS assessment. STARS (the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) is a platform that is used by higher education institutions to measure and track sustainability across the entire campus.
Evan also spoke about feeling prepared for his role in part due to the coursework he completed in his first year of the SSAS program, “It was through this classroom learning that I began to understand the intricacies of sustainability and how transferable it is to any and all fields. It was this understanding that helped with my comprehension of the highly extensive assessment framework I am currently working with. In addition, the consultancy project we worked on in SSAS 5P03 introduced me to STARS which was highly beneficial for the transition into my co-op job.”
As Kassie and Evan prepare to enter their second year of the SSAS program, they are beginning to consider their careers and both have found that their co-op positions have helped them consider what they will bring to their careers. When asked what lessons they’ve learned that they hope to bring to their future jobs, Evan reflected on his experience working as part of a team “Your working environment matters when pursuing a career. I currently work with a supportive and collaborative team, which has been instrumental to my learning. This is something that I would hope to have in my future career”.
Kassie spoke of opportunities she’s had in her co-op role when asked about lessons from her current role that she’d like to bring into her career, “[I’ve learned that] balance can exist with theory and practice. I have been privileged to attend different workshops/seminars in my role to learn different management techniques and bring them into use on the job. It highlights the positive action that can come with effective communication, collaboration, and willingness to learn/adapt.”.
Kassie and Evan also both spoke highly of the co-op experience overall, both in terms of preparedness for their future careers and in terms of applying their knowledge. When asked how their co-op roles have enriched their understanding of sustainability, both agreed that their respective roles have taught them a lot in different areas of sustainability. Kassie spoke about her new knowledge about the maintenance of healthy shorelines to the Niagara River, as this “helps recover native species and increase biodiversity to the area while maintaining cultural and economic benefits to the public, tourists, and its residents”. Evan also spoke about applications of sustainability in his role, “I can say that I have learned so much about sustainability in this role. Working on a campus wide assessment has opened my eyes to more avenues of sustainability aside from solely operations, emissions, etc. I began to understand how important wellbeing, engagement, equity, diversity etc. is to developing sustainability as a whole”.
We are thrilled to see our students thriving in their respective workplaces, and look forward to hearing more from each of our students when they return to begin their second year in the SSAS program!
To learn more about the Master of Sustainabiltiy Program please visit: https://brocku.ca/esrc/ssas/