Student stories

EPHE student keeps Ucluelet parks beautiful

Tamara Monod

Pacific Rim National Parks Reserve

By Tamara Monod

This past summer I was afford a very new and exciting position that brought me behind the scenes and allowed me to develop a new set of tangible hands on skills. For my fourth and final co-operative work term with the Recreation and Health Education department at The University of Victoria I worked as an Assets Support Technician with Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in Ucluelet B.C. 

Working for Parks Canada allows me to apply both my academic knowledge as well as further my career goal of connecting the public with the outdoors to foster health through nature and recreation. The position brought me an entirely new view on Parks Canada all while practicing the National Park mandate of preserving and presenting both natural and historically significant sites.

I was offered both a position as a Visitor Service Attendant and the position with Asset Support, I knew immediately that working with Assets was going to provide me with an invaluable learning opportunity.

I not only got to work outside everyday, but also was able to obtain new physical and technical skills. The position took me beyond the front lines of meeting and greeting and into the bigger picture of how the park’s assets are kept running smoothly. 

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is made up of three different parcels of protected land; the Broken Island Group, the West Coast Trail and the Long Beach Unit. The Technical Asset Support team services the Long beach Unit and on occasion work that may need to be done within the Broken Islands Group.

Technical Asset Services consists of a general Maintenance team, which is responsible for water quality testing, property repairs, and facility upkeep; a Highways team, whom keep the highways and roads in safe condition; and a Trails team which are responsible for building and maintaining trials as well as mowing, brushing and maintenance of any non highway properties within the Long Beach Unit.  

As a new member of the assets team, and the only student to successfully be hired for the department, I was given the opportunity to work in each area of assets with the majority of my time being spent with the Trails team.

This position was totally amazing! Every day I was outside doing something entirely different. I learnt how to build boardwalks out of yellow cedar, operate equipment such as chain saws, brushing saws, the ride on mower, and obtain my forklift operators licence. I participated in regular beach clean ups both by quad and helicopter. I learnt how the recycling and refuse system works and spent a number of shifts running the garbage root. I worked with the Highways team mowing and scrapping scuppers, and brushing out and cleaning up road signs. All with an amazing group of people!

The most memorable project this summer was the opportunity to do a beach clean up project. Due to heavy seas through the past winter a number of refrigerated shipping units were lost overboard of a tanker ship and washed ashore in different locations along the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Mother nature made quick work of the containers and tore the hulking units into piles of twisted shrapnel and insulator foam. Parks Canada pursued the company who owned the containers and secured funding for their removal.

Each of the containers had to be either dragged out with a backhoe or removed by helicopter. To do so, many of the containers needed to be cut into weight appropriate sizes so that the helicopter could lift the units away. Not only was I able to participate on the clean up team, learning how to operate a heavy duty steal cutting saw, take a helicopter to and from an island, and spend the day on the beach, but this project showed me how the national parks mandate and goals go far beyond that of the park boundary.

All of the debris is slated for clean up regardless of whether it is within the National Park or not. It is this exact action that made me proud to work for the Park.

This past summer allowed me to learn new skills, gather new experiences, play in the sun, and create truly meaningful connections. 

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