This week the Wetlands Education Program (WEP) summer 2021 intern, Courtenay Miller will have finished her last day with the B.C. Wildlife Federation (BCWF). Courtenay completed her undergraduate degree in May with a double major in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria. Courtenay has previous experience from volunteer work, co-ops, and field studies in ecological restoration, Indigenous engagement, environmental consulting, conservation, and community and regional planning. Courtenay will be continuing her studies at Vancouver Island University in her Master’s in Community and Regional Planning with a focus on environmental planning. As the WEP intern, Courtenay had the pleasure of assisting in coordinating environmental workshops, outreach events, and wetland restoration projects.
During this internship, Courtenay learned invaluable knowledge that will be an asset in her Masters’ program, providing her with professional skills in the environmental science sector. This position provided Courtenay with skills in wetland restoration, plant identification, wetland classification, bird identification, soil texturization, QGIS, workshop coordination, and reporting, to name a few. There were many things that Courtenay enjoyed during her summer with the WEP but one of her favourite things was being a part of the wetland construction project at Mackenzie Secondary School. This construction project was a huge learning experience, and Courtenay loved participating in a wetland restoration project and learning from restoration specialist, Robin Annschild. This project truly held Courtenay accountable for agreeing in her interview that she could lift 40 pounds!
Alyssa, Alana, and Courtenay from the WEP team spent 2 days carrying two 20 pound straw bales on their shoulders, buckets of soil, wheelbarrows full of plants, and massive piles of equipment. This project tested the team’s physical strength, and it was a huge accomplishment when finished. This wetland restoration project was so enjoyable and was a highlight of Courtenay’s summer. During the 10-day field work expedition in Mackenzie, Courtenay had a goal of seeing her first beaver and moose. The WEP team was lucky enough to see 5 moose! But unfortunately, Courtenay is still on the hunt to see her first beaver. Hopefully that day will come soon! Courtenay also loved being a part of all the wetland workshops. It was such a pleasure getting to meet devoted wetland stewards, learning from so many knowledgeable people, and being apart of the hands-on learning environment.
This internship provided Courtenay with opportunities to interact with community members, industry professionals, and First Nation groups exchanging knowledge about wetlands across B.C. This knowledge will provide Courtenay with the skills to implement sustainable solutions in future development projects, focusing on the importance of the environment. In both Courtenay’s undergraduate degree and internship, she wanted to obtain an environmental science background so that these skills could be combined with urban planning. Knowledge in both fields will provide Courtenay with the proper qualifications to be an advocate for the environment in future development projects.
Wetlands are invaluable, having countless ecosystem services that are critical for the long-term survival of many species. Development has been a major contributor to the depletion of wetlands across B.C. and Courtenay hopes that going into the field of environmental planning that she can be an advocate for environmental protection and sustainable development. This internship position provided Courtenay with training, fieldwork experience, and background knowledge in wetlands, providing her with the qualifications to protect wetlands and support local communities in her future endeavors. Courtenay enjoyed her internship at BCWF so much and will continue to take this knowledge and experiences with her to her Master’s program this fall. Courtenay would like to thank the B.C. Wildlife Federation for this amazing opportunity and the Wetlands Education Program team for an unforgettable summer.