Advice from a U of A student

July 23, 2020 12:03 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Well, I have to admit the time for my second blog has snuck up on me.  Even though I have been back in Peace River since March, the time is flying by. Since the summer going by fast means that September will creep up before we know it, I thoughtI would talk about some of my university experiences in the past two years and offer some advice for other people who are in their first years of university or are considering entering the field of environmental sciences.  I am only entering my third year at the University of Alberta this year, but I have definitely learned a lot that I wish I had known my first year.  

SHOW UP and sit at the front;never underestimate how important it is to have good attendance, professors and peers notice!  Pro tip:sitting at the front of the class means your prof will be watching you, making you a lot more likely to pay attention.  

Build your resume WHILE in school;summer jobs are so valuable but there are also ways to develop your skills and experience during the school year to help you land your dream summer position.  Volunteer opportunities and extra projects can make life feel busier but also be very fulfilling.  It’s great to know that you are doing something for yourself.  At the U of A there are elementary student mentoring volunteer opportunities and lots of potential for degree boosters in the form of field schools, extra certificates (I am currently enrolled in a Certificate in Sustainability, which adds no extra cost to tuition), internships and more.  

Have fun, give yourself some time off;Post night-class pub sessions on campus with your peers (and sometimes Profs) are a great way to meet people, process the day and probably learn something too. 

Write by hand; Courses such as plant ID and animal ecology require hours spent memorizing scientific names, sounds and characteristics each week and can be some of the most challenging courses in this field.  While online flashcards can be useful for storing images of specimens and providing a quick way to review the material, NOTHING helps enforce something like writing it out from memory over and over.

WALK to school if you can;using public transit or driving can be faster and feel easier, but nothing helps me show up awake better than a cool walk in the morning.  It also helps to fit exercise into your week.  Not to mention it’s also a good way to get to know the campus, and find obscure coffee spots. 

For this week’s herbarium tips, where and what (not) to pick:

  • Picking plants in national parks such as Jasper National Park is not allowed.  It is ALWAYS a good idea to be aware of where you’re picking, make a note of where you’re picking and know with certainty that you are allowed to pick there. When making your herbarium you have to document the location, and TAs do look closely when marking. 
  • You also cannot pick endangered and protected species; even when you are allowed to collect something always consider how much you are picking, what you are picking and how it might affect the population. If you want to press part of a tree or larger plant, use clippers and try not to damage what you leave.  Many types of orchids in Alberta are rare and cannot be collected.  Lists of endangered plants can be found online.


To wrap up my blog on an ecological note, please enjoy some (somewhat blurry but in my opinion adorable) deer pictures taken in front of Mercer’s Woodlands building.  Deer may be common in a lot of places but a brand new fawn never stops being cute.  I think I’ve decided to save some of the frog photos promised last week for another day.  Thanks for reading!


A baby deer with it mother.

“LEGS”; A dedicated doe nurses her twin fawns, born this June. The deer feel safe in the open grassy area in front of the Woodlands building where I work, but they quickly sink into the grass when they think danger may be near.

A baby deer walking through the marsh.

“Wait up mom”; this young fawn is working hard to keep up with his mom. I cannot get over how much I love their little camouflage spots, which work remarkably well when they lay still in the grass.

Two baby deer staying close to their mother.

“Trials of twins”; Each time I see this pair at work I wonder how a deer manages to keep both of her babies safe and fed without losing either one, so far this doe seems to be doing a great job.

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