Student stories

Biology student monitors large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest

Bryn Armstrong

Raincoast Conservation Foundation

Bryn Armstrong’s co-op office is different than most—she’s been spending the summer and fall keeping an eye on grizzly bears, whales, and other large carnivores in the Great Bear Rainforest.

As a wildlife biologist intern with Raincoast Conservation Foundation, this biology student is putting her degree into action. She spends some days in the field near Klemtu, the village of the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation, where she checks remote cameras that are monitoring large carnivore activity and vessel traffic in the area. Other days she works in the Victoria office to use data from these cameras to inform ecotourism management plans for the area. 

Bryn, whose heritage is Scottish and Norwegian and who was raised in Ontario and France, is also working closely with members of the Kitasoo/Xai’xas Nation, with whom Raincoast Conservation has a collaborative research partnership. One of her projects has been to transcribe traditional ecological knowledge interviews on c̓áq (mountain goat) conservation.

“I have been humbled to be able to spend time in Klemtu with so many amazing people through this co-op experience,” says Bryn. “Getting out and doing hands-on work makes all of my school work worth it; it makes sense when the learning is contextualized in real-life conservation initiatives.”

Bryn photographs a grizzly bear from a boat

When she graduates, Bryn hopes to become a biologist and to continue to work in conservation. Christina Service, Bryn’s supervisor, is a biologist herself, and says that Bryn’s two work terms with Raincoast Conservation will certainly help her to achieve that goal.

“Bryn is broadening her understanding of applied biology, developing practical skill sets, and expanding her knowledge of working on conservation issues in a cross-cultural context with our collaborators from the Kitasoo/Xai’xas Nation,” says Christina. 

This cross-cultural collaboration, has been a valuable learning experience. “The ability to work respectfully in an Indigenous community while conducting scientific research is an extremely important part of being a biologist,” says Bryn. “I have learned an incredible amount about the Kitasoo/Xai’xas people’s history and their stewardship of their territory. My eyes have been opened to different challenges facing different kinds of communities.”

Thanks to her work terms with Raincoast Conservation, Bryn is well on her way to achieving her dream of being a biologist. Co-op, she says, could help other students discover and achieve their dreams too.

“Co-op made my UVic experience even better than I thought it could be. I would encourage all students to apply for co-op—the work experience it provides really improves your career skills and opens up lots of amazing opportunities.” 

Apply for co-op

Whether you want to be a biologist, an entrepreneur, an artist, or anything in between, co-op can help you refine and achieve your career goals, make connections with employers, and experience new places and types of work. Learn how and when to apply.

More about Biology co-op