Jodie Krakowski

Ecologist, Madrone Environmental Services Ltd.

BSc, MSc Forestry

 

What attracted you to your chosen field?

I wanted a job where I could combine my lifestyle goals like hiking and love of the outdoors and environmental conservation with my work. That is, to get paid to do what I love. [For the most part, I get some of this at my work but there is always a tradeoff between compensation levels, getting sufficient work (f/t year round), and the types of work required. E.g. a lot of the field work that is my favorite is seasonal and poorly paid or volunteer, but my higher-level more office-basd work can support me so I am able to do these jobs too.]

What do you like best about the field?

The diversity of work. I am always learning new things, and I do feel that often the work I do can make a difference by influencing policy based on science and real data to help policy makers come to the best decisions.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

Contract work is a challenge to maintain sufficient employment. One must constantly keep an active contact network. Keeping up with the newest regulatory changes is also a challenge. Work hours is another one: I often work 80+ hour weeks since deadlines set by bureaucracies and timelines set by biological windows are not flexible. Some employers or agencies may not understand these challenges. Work/ life balance is completely nonexistent.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

Huge growth in the private sector, with a limited amount of public sector jobs due to high attrition rates. Environmental rules are constantly changing but being applied to more and more fields. Professional reliance and liability are emerging as key issues. The public demands changing perspectives regarding resource values and their management. A shortage of qualified professionals looms as fewer students are attracted to the profession. This is a result of downturns in the cyclical but declining traditional forest sector arising from international issues plus local/regional/provincial management and resource availability.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

Definintely excellent communication skills are a priority. One must communicate effectively with clients, the public, regulatory agencies, NGOs, the media, community groups, etc. One must be able to research and understand new developments in the field, scientifically and policy related. Foresters are notoriously weak in English skills. Computer literacy is important, and GIS skills are also very helpful. Math and engineering/material physics are also helpful for forestry students interested in operational practice. Students have to be able to get practical on the ground field experience, especially in the area and region where they will work or study. There is no substitute. They must have common sense to make good decisions and know when to ask for help.