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Alex Meeker

Ontario Provincial Biologist for Trout Unlimited Canada
Graduate of Ecosystem Restoration, Class of 2016
It all started with a love for the outdoors. Now this Ecosystem Restoration grad is a powerful advocate for the natural world in the face of climate change.

Current job

I have the opportunity to wear a number of different hats. Whether this includes grant writing, running volunteer or corporate restoration workdays, or leading dam removal projects my daily tasks revolve around improving the quality and quantity of freshwater resources across Canada.

Career path

After graduating from Niagara College, I took a short-term contact as a waterfowl research technician in the Boreal Forest and then landed at an environmental consulting company in 2016, called GEO Morphix as a junior environmental scientist. The position at GEO Morphix allowed me to develop a variety of geomorphic assessment and monitoring skills that would be crucial in informing my role as river restoration crew lead at Trout Unlimited Canada, which is where I started at TUC.

After several months as the restoration lead, I was promoted to Ontario Bio to help cover my supervisor’s maternity leave.

Influences and inspiration

Growing up I was always fascinated with the natural world and loved being outside. Although, neither of my parents worked in the environmental field for their careers, they raised three environmentalists and think a lot of that has to do with them encouraging many outdoor adventures when we were young. My sister, Meredith, who also graduated from the Ecosystem Restoration program at Niagara, deserves full credit for putting me on to the course. I’m thankful that she let her big sister tag along and it was great to share the experience with her, as we’ve both been successful in our time after Niagara College. 

I think that my decade of working in the outdoor education/recreation industry between school semesters (although not directly related to my current career path) combined with my technical knowledge of natural heritage have made me a powerful advocate for increasing the resilience of our natural infrastructure in the face of climate change.

Standout NC experiences

Having completed an undergraduate and master’s degree before attending Niagara, the Ecosystem Restoration program really gave me the hands-on field skills I needed to be competitive in the job market. These new skills complemented the communication and critical thinking skills I had developed during my previous years in academia.

In addition, the program helped to provide an important legislative background for environmental work in the province of Ontario as well as a strong network of other professionals (and friends) across the environmental sector.

During the 2015-2016 school year, I was vice-president of the Niagara College Chapter of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER). In this role, I helped to organize an on-campus phragmites removal event, a speaker series, and an environmental job fair. SER was a great way to continue to build our networking and event facilitation skills, which are important no matter where you might end up. The countless number of group projects challenged us to create products that would be viable in the ‘real-world’ in a range of disciplines, as well as honing our time management and teamwork skills.

“… take advantage of as many learning opportunities as possible and get out to volunteer with a variety of organizations … you never know how those experiences will impact you down the road.”

 Over the course of the school year, I had tracked owls at night, developed tree-planting plans for a local municipality, learned to identify hundreds of native species and how to remove invasive ones. These experiences wouldn’t have been as authentic if we weren’t being supported by instructors who were practicing professionals who were able to prepare us for the competitive job market after graduation.

Career words of wisdom

My path was a meandering one before getting to Niagara College, but my time there helped me to develop the necessary skills in order to be successful.

If you’re not sure what your next move is that’s okay, but in the meantime I encourage you take advantage of as many learning opportunities as possible and to get out and volunteer with a variety of organizations (i.e. not-for-profits, naturalist clubs and conservation authorities). You never know how those experiences will impact you down the road.

As one of my mentors told me, you have to make your own luck when starting out your career!