Samantha Shapira: Last Blog: FPAC 2022 Green Dream Internship Program

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August 24, 2022

There is something beautifully moving about waking up with the sun and stepping outside into the brisk morning air, ready for another day. For my office-based half of the summer, I’d hoist myself into my truck at 6:15am and blast the air to defog my windshield, letting in the soft morning light. I’d put on my favourite feel-good playlist and savour the thirty-five-minute drive to the office. Golden rays would trickle through the trees in waves as I cruised along the open roads. In the early summer, I passed through sleepy, winter-trodden expanses of dried brown springing into fresh, young fields of green. As the summer rolled on, the landscape morphed into the domineering vibrant yellows of the canola fields. And finally, now, as I prepare to end my position in the late summer, I gaze out with bitter sweetness at patchwork fields of well-maintained crops, rolled hay bales and dusty beige-coloured remains.

As I pull up and join the final several kilometre stretch of road leading to Al-Pac’s mill, I join a seemingly endless convoy of vehicles that I know will all turn into the same place I’m heading. I can’t help but feel like part of something special. This feeling started for me within a couple of weeks at Al-Pac. The way I was made to feel welcomed by everyone and integrated into the community in such a short period of time never ceases to amaze me. I quickly became accustomed to friendly visits and chitchat in my office, questions about my weekends and upcoming plans and invites out to dinners and social events. That feeling of belonging is sometimes hard to come by, and I am beyond grateful for the kind, warm environment at Al-Pac.

When I wasn’t in the office working on various computer projects, usually to do with wetlands, I was in the field, usually walking through wetlands. I had a perfectly balanced summer in terms of office time and field work. I was exposed to a large variety of projects and experiences that I am excited to carry forward with me into new career opportunities and apply as general life skills. I was graciously allowed the opportunity to go out with different teams from the office, such as a field tour with the planners, a community consultation day looking at historic sites with the Indigenous Relations team and a knowledge sharing trip between Ducks Unlimited Canada and Al-Pac exploring forestry operations and wetland identification.

Left to right: Emilee Gauthier, Keegan Martin, Bennett Eichinger, Samantha Shapira

I spent about 5 full weeks in the field with some other field days sprinkled in throughout my summer. It was so rewarding spending time with the other summer students and becoming good friends with them during my time working on the plant for the Silviculture team. Sleeping in a tent is always an experience I treasure, and having my coworkers around made for a fun time. I saw the northern lights for the first time this summer, watched a dramatic thunderstorm and lightning show race by, and scared off a few coyotes lingering and calling around our tents at 2am one night with one of the other summer students. Despite my fear, I was excited to go up in a helicopter to be delivered to some of our more hard-to-access blocks that the tree planters were working on. I also learned what a Hagglund was and spent a couple days riding in them to avoid long, wet hikes. This was also my first time ever driving a one tonne truck, which was my field vehicle for the summer. I eventually got used to hearing “that’s a big truck for such a small person” and over time, I felt more confident that I was the exact right fit for my truck. I am so proud of myself for safely handling such a large vehicle and improving on important gravel and dirt road driving skills. Overall, there were a lot of “firsts” this summer and they are moments I will always cherish.

I would like to thank everyone at Al-Pac for making my move out to Alberta for the summer so seamless and fostering an exciting work experience. Specifically, a massive thank you goes out to the Science and Certification team for everything you taught me and all the ways you made me feel so comfortable and included. Lastly, thank you to FPAC for selecting me for the Green Dream Internship role and allowing me to showcase my position with Al-Pac. I had so much fun with it and I am thankful to now have my content pieces to look back on as a wonderful reflection of my time here.

I will tell anyone who will listen that this is the best summer student job experience I have ever had. It feels amazing to end this chapter of my life on such a high note, as I venture out as a BSc. graduate next spring more prepared than ever to settle into a fulfilling environmental career.

For more information contact:
Kerry Patterson-Baker
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
kpatterson-baker@fpac.ca
(613) 563-1441 x 314
Follow FPAC on Twitter: @FPAC_APFC
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