Summer 2018

Newsletter Archive


Summer Student Profile: Coral Sawatzky

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I have had a lifelong fascination with nature that began early in my childhood. By the age of 3, I had learned all the names of dinosaurs and was fascinated by the idea of evolution. My earliest memory is of capturing a spider in a plastic yogurt container and being incredibly distressed when I accidentally left it behind. As I got older, I spent every camping trip with a butterfly net in hand and inevitably had a zoo of insects collected by the end of the weekend.

My mother was a science teacher and nurtured this obsession with visits to the science center and zoo. I always knew I had a future in the sciences, and when I was ready to attend university I found a way towards my goal through a degree in Environmental Sciences with an additional minor in Biology. I am currently completing my 4th year in the program and I hope to follow this degree with a career in conservation, eventually obtaining a masters degree in biology.

Working with Miistakis has only fueled my passion for the conservation of the incredible habitat that we have here in Canada, specifically our wetlands. Working with the Call of the Wetland project, I have been given the opportunity to help in the preservation of Calgary's precious few wetlands, and the amphibian populations they contain. Every week I visit our Automated Recording Units (ARU) at 8 different wetlands and collect the recordings they have created. I then scour the spectrograms produced for any sign of the 5 different amphibian calls and record the data. Another fantastic aspect of Call of the Wetland is the citizen science portion. The app created a platform for easy participation and simple data submission. This is especially exciting, as I have always been a proponent of everyday citizen science.

Last summer I was granted the opportunity to work with Duck's Unlimited Canada in Hanna, AB. While similar in its goals of conservation, my role with DUC was the complete opposite as of that at Miistakis. I spent all my time out in the middle of the prairie, without a soul in sight. It was fascinating to learn about all the paperwork and manpower that goes on behind the scenes in the name of conservation. Even more incredible was the amount of life that flourished in the seemingly barren prairies. From pronghorn antelope to ruddy ducks, badgers to great horned owls, these open lands are practically brimming with unique and beautiful life.

I am so grateful to have the privilege to work with Miistakis in the conservation of the raw beauty that surrounds us and cannot wait to continue my career in this field.