From IEP to ADGIS and Beyond

Back in 2012, I took the Integrated Environmental Planning program and had my first introduction to Geographic Information Systems and its applications in the environment. Unfortunately, I chose a different education path, although a Bachelors of Environmental Science and a few years later working in invasive plant management, I found myself still thinking about GIS.

Fast forward to 2017, after completing the ADGIS program, I was accepted as a co-op student with the Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) to work with the Columbia Basin Watershed Network, and several of its member groups this summer, providing GIS and mapping support. These groups were interested in watershed protection and management, though they would also be used in a range of other initiatives in their communities.

The Arrow Lakes Environmental Stewardship Society was interested in maps of watersheds near Burton, British Columbia to be use in community presentations as wells as for wetland restoration, water quality monitoring, and community capacity building. Glade Watershed Protection Society was looking to enhance ecological watershed management efforts in the Glade Creek watershed recovery from past logging activities. The Wasa Lake Land Improvement District was interested in updating base maps of the area as well as identifying properties that are vulnerable to seasonal flooding. Lastly the Mainstreams Environmental Society was looking to identify human and wildlife uses within the Mather Creek watershed and to use these maps to increase awareness and the value of water resources in the community.

Throughout this co-op experience has provided me with valuable lessons that have really helped me to strengthen my skills and techniques that will benefit my GIS career in the future.

Organization and data management is key to work efficiently on multiple projects. When working with numerous datasets it can be easy to end up with messy and cluttered databases. I definitely learned early on to have an organized and structured database structure and avoided wasting time that could be better spent on various project aspects. Save, save, save, and save one more time just to be sure. Of course, this seems pretty straight forward though can be occasionally forgotten, as one can get caught up with editing or annotation details and lose track of time. An ArcMap crash or an unsuspecting power outage can undo hours of work.

Lastly always be prepared. This co-op wasn’t without its challenges, especially with upgrades to the GIS lab that had me prepared against unsuspecting power outages and other technical issues…. In addition, there is still limitations and constraints when it comes to certain spatial data that hopefully will be addressed in the future.

My experience in this co-op has helped me to solidify the techniques and skills I’ve learned throughout this program, as well as gain confidence in the transition from practice to real life application.