Our goal is to provide students with real-world experience in the environmental sector in order to gain professional skills and networking contacts that will help them along their career path after graduation. Most placements are paid, with the option for unpaid placements available for students who want to gain specific experience to advance their career goals.
Professional placements will typically be with conservation authorities, government agencies (municipal, provincial, federal), environmental consultancies, and ENGOs in roles such as environmental technician, junior policy analyst, junior biologist and conservation technician/assistant. Students will be applying their learned skills and knowledge in the workplace, whether collecting & analyzing data, writing technical reports, generating maps, communicating results to stakeholders, and/or developing environmental monitoring plans.
The placement process begins with an informal interview in late Fall with the Placement Coordinator to determine career goals, potential networking contacts, previous experience, and current skillset, that may help to identify and target organizations to approach. Students will also participate in online workshops in late Fall on Skills Identification, Resume Writing & Interviewing that will help prepare them to share their resumes with prospective employers or apply to summer positions in competitive job processes.
The Capstone course is the final M.BEMA course and is a one-week in-person course that takes place on the Peterborough campus in the 4th week of August. In 2023, the course will be running from Sun Aug 20th to Fri Aug 25th (inclusive). On-campus accommodations and parking for the week will be arranged by Conference Services, where students can stay in Gzowski College Residence at a reduced rate. There is a GO Bus stop right outside the residence, which has bus service to the Oshawa GO Train Station (Plan your Trip).
General Capstone course format (9:30 am to 4:30pm daily) - Sample Schedule:
Sat - arrive at Gzowski College Residence in the afternoon/evening (for those coming from out of town)
Sun - Morning classroom session with lecture, meet with groups, field site visit #1 in afternoon
Mon - Morning classroom session with lecture, placement presentations, afternoon workshop, group work
Tues - Morning classroom session with lecture, placement presentations, afternoon field site visit #2, group work
Wed - Group work, placement presentations, field site visit #3 (if needed)
Thurs - Group work
Fri - Group presentations
Graduate students from the M.BEMA program at the Trent University Symons Campus
Towards the end of summer, small groups of graduate students were out with measuring tape and notebooks, studying the campus lands as part of the final Capstone course for the Master of Bioenvironmental Monitoring and Assessment (M.BEMA). This one-week intensive course occurs in person at the Peterborough campus and consolidates knowledge developed by students over eight months of online learning and a four-month summer placement.
The course is designed to mimic the work of an environmental consultant, asking students to perform an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on an aspect of the Trent campus. The University Green Network, which includes 11 Nature Areas available for study, makes the Trent Lands an exceptionally rich natural lab for students learning to survey and assess land—important skills for those wishing to work for environmental organizations.
Preparation for careers in the environmental sector
As employees of the mock company, BEMA Consulting Inc., groups in the Capstone course are “hired” by interested parties to study particular tracts of land on the Trent Campus. They are given a week to conduct site visits, collect and evaluate existing records and mapping, and develop two reports. At the end of their one-week course, groups come together to present their findings.
“The Capstone course provides the opportunity to integrate all the skills and knowledge I have accumulated throughout my studies and apply it to a real-life scenario, as well as collaborate with classmates with different backgrounds. It’s a smaller program, and the professors were great and really cared about trying to make it a beneficial experience,” said M.BEMA student Sara Casey.
One M.BEMA group was tasked with assessing the future site location for the peopleCare not-for-profit long-term care (LTC) home—the first step of the University-Integrated Seniors Village. The Stage 1 Site Plan for the LTC home has already been submitted to the City of Peterborough and includes forward-thinking steps that Trent took in collaboration with local First Nations to complete a detailed Environmental Impact Brief, featuring a Four-Season Environmental Monitoring, and Natural Heritage Compensation Plan.
The students completed their own assessment by walking the site at Water Street and Woodland Drive to conduct a preliminary survey of landcover features, plants and animals, hydrology, and possible needs for further assessment of the development project.
“The environmental impact assessment done by GEI consulting [previously hired by Trent] contained adequate measures for lessening the impact of the proposed Seniors Village. Our group decided to add some additional recommendations that we thought were necessary to mitigate environmental impacts further,” said M.BEMA student, Carley Kelly. Mitigations considered for the next stage of site planning touched on light, noise, and movement disturbances from the future buildings.
Additional photos from the August 2022 Capstone course:
2023 Placement Highlights:
Jennifer really enjoyed her placement at Fleming College's Frost Campus (Lindsay, ON), working with Professor Melanie Logan, Head Technologist Scott Miles & Assistant Joshua Chien in the Environmental Technology Program! Among other activities, she was involved with measuring water flow and analyzing water quality parameters in streams of concern over the summer, which contributed to Fleming’s collaboration with Kawartha Conservation.
Gillian worked with Trent's Planning Dept. over the summer on a number of monitoring projects including surveying for turtles on the Trent-Severn Waterway (shown in photo) and other species (monarchs, bats, birds, and invasive Phragmites). On this turtle sampling day, 5 different species were recorded!
Wendy worked remotely over the summer with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) which is a part of Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). She supported CWS regional offices with researched intelligence about cumulative impacts to migratory bird species on their respective protected areas, i.e. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries & National Wildlife Areas. Based on this work, proven mitigation strategies can be shared that not only protect and conserve target species, but also to safeguard ecological integrity of the CWS Protected Area Network as a whole.
Grace also worked at the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) over the summer, as a Habitat Data Officer. She was able to build on her prior GIS skills and experience in this position, which involved GIS, data management, and data analysis skills to map species-at-risk critical habitats. She was also able to participate in some field surveys for monarch butterflies near Big Creek National Wildlife Area (you will find her by following the tape measure).
Hannah is an MSc candidate in the BEMA Program and completed her placement with the Yukon Government in the Fall of 2022. She was able to work on pika surveys, small mammal trapping, caribou surveys, camera trapping project for wolverine, and drone surveys of muskrat push-ups. Hannah was also involved in writing a paper on the effect of environmental and socioeconomic variables on bison harvest and hopes to continue working with Yukon Government after completing her thesis.