My great interest in nature is what started it all. As someone who loves climbing, camping and fishing, I think that my Indigenous roots from my father’s side have definitely influenced me. From the time when I was very young, my father has always taught me to preserve and protect the nature that surrounds us. I grew up in a rural area: our land was carpeted with strawberry fields, and the woods was right at the edge of our large yard. I found happiness there, and learned to make constant connections with nature.

Jacob Boucher
Jacob Boucher student biologist

Becoming a student biologist

In summer 2018, I began working at the NCC in Gatineau Park as a student biologist. In fall 2018 and winter 2019, my work was focused on Ontario urban lands in Ottawa. I have a great interest in plants and animals, and I’m involved in several projects with other students. I’m enrolled in the environmental studies program at the University of Ottawa.

I learned about this student job posting through a friend at school, who was also a biologist in Gatineau Park. She got me in touch with the person responsible, and then I studied, did an interview and got the job I coveted.

A variety of projects

My projects in summer 2018 were quite varied. I worked on one project involving peregrine falcons, and worked on a survey of plants and wildlife, as well as working in the area of invasive plant species.

Wildlife

For the peregrine falcon project, my colleague and I had to visit the falcons’ traditional nesting sites in the area, to see if they had returned. Equipped with binoculars and a telescope, we searched for a peregrine falcon nest or falcon couple at each site. And, if we confirmed they were present, we would then install signage panels so that the public would avoid the area, so as not to disturb the falcons’ nesting period.

Plants

The control of invasive plants is a very important issue at the NCC. My role was, among other things, to monitor colonies that had already been surveyed in order to assess the effectiveness of control measures implemented in previous years. Specifically, I worked on projects to control dog-strangling vine, lesser periwinkle and Eurasian water milfoil. In some cases, we had to install geotextile fabric to prevent the regrowth of these species. So, we ensured that this artificial layer was installed, where appropriate, and that it was effective.

Plants and wildlife

Plant and wildlife survey projects were undertaken primarily for the purposes of environmental characterization. This is essential in order for land managers to be able to make informed decisions, when they have to approve construction projects or other work that could cause environmental damage. A smart GPS (JUNO) and identification guides are essential tools for this work.

My favourite project was working on the survey of Eurasian water milfoil in Gatineau Park. From my boat, I had to count the numbers of this perennial aquatic plant in Meech Lake, in Chelsea.

Working with conservation officers

My dream is to work as a conservation officer one day. I would like to be a biologist at the NCC, which I consider to be meaningful work, and ideal for a student seeking a career.

Jacob Boucher student biologist

Through my work as a student biologist, I have gained many skills, and what stands out the most from my work in summer 2018 is learning to identify the trees and plants of the region — a great addition to my skill set!

This summer, the projects I’ll be working on include the following:

  • geese management
  • environmental characterization
  • monitoring of species at risk (e.g. butternut)
  • beaver monitoring
  • bat observation
  • and a lot more!

I very much appreciate my position at the NCC, and couldn’t hope for a better job.

Sign up for one or more of our newsletters