Melony Catana profile image

Melony Catana

Job title and employer:

Environmental Technologist, CEO, Elevate Environmental Inc

 

What does your job title mean?

People and companies hire me to help them prevent their construction projects from causing impacts to animals and the environment. I determine what animals and habitats could be harmed by the work and then develop plans that the people doing the work follow. My work helps them get their environmental permits.


Background information:

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Kemptille, Ontario, Canada

Where do you live now?

Kelowna, BC, Canada

Where did you complete your training or education?

I have a Diploma in Ecosystem Management from Sir Sanford Fleming College and a Diploma in Integrated Resource Management from Sault College of Applied Arts and Sciences

 


What you do at work?

I run my own environmental consulting company. I help the people who hire me keep their construction projects from causing negative impacts on the environment. My work helps them get their environmental permits so they can get their work done.

I travel to job sites make an inventory of the animals, plants and habitats located there.  I search online GIS resources for historical mapping records of endangered plants and animals near project sites. I write scientific technical reports about what I find and how it can be protected. I teach people doing construction work how to work in a way that will cause the least amount of harm to the environment. I also watch them working and report the results to the people in charge and regulatory agencies. I work as part of a team. I communicate a lot throughout the day with regulators, engineers, government agencies, contractors and other project stakeholders.

Sometimes the projects are set to take place in a lake or stream. For these projects, I have to remove the fish from the work area. I use fishnets and a backpack electro shocker (electrofisher) to catch the fish. Then I release them to a safe area, alive. This job means I have to have a strong knowledge of species and their habitats (especially aquatic ones). I also need to know the environmental legislation and region-specific best management documents.

Mastering technical writing is vital for this and any engineering job. I often have to make important decisions about protecting the environment. To do that I collect all the background information I can get to help me make those decisions.  Often, I refer what the law and what other experts say.  When there is no background information, I find my own information by doing field research.  When there is no established method, I invent and develop methods to get the information I need.

I rely on a team of biologists, technologists, engineers, contractors, and construction workers to work with me to develop design solutions for projects.  I use math every day. This can be for calculating habitat areas, figuring out seed and plant requirements for restoring an area, analyzing field data, or for calibrating equipment.


How does what you do affect people’s lives?

My work is important because I help people, animals and the environment.  I help stop pollution so that people can have clean water for drinking and recreation. I help protect fish and fish habitat, and endangered species. I help minimize the impacts of construction projects and restore environmental damage to keep habitats healthy and beneficial for people and the environment.

 


What motivates you in your career?

I like solving problems and thinking of new ways to do that. I like working with people that are like me. I find it very exciting to work with threatened and endangered species such as bats, turtles or amphibians. This is because the animals are very interesting and what I recommend can make a big difference to their survival.  I have always loved nature and now I get to work in nature and help protect it.


How did you get to where you are today?

I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in high school. I was interested in plants, wildlife and the environment. I went to schools that gave me a chance to develop and explore my interests.  I have two technical college diplomas. I have taken courses including Riparian Areas Regulation Assessment, Erosion and Sediment Control, Wildlife danger tree assessment, electrofishing, and bioengineering. During my training, I had two coop placements with the Canadian Forest Service. One was for forest fire research and the other was for biological insecticide research.

When I graduated, I had several job options in Ontario but I moved to Kelowna to check it out. Unfortunately, there were fewer options here. For a while, I worked in landscaping and horticulture because I couldn’t find a job in my field. However, this experience turned out to be the reason I was hired for what I do now. My landscape design experience meant that I could easily do habitat restoration designs. It was by word of mouth that I was hired for my first long-term environmental consulting job.

There were challenges entering a male-dominated environment because some old-fashioned work culture remained.  I had a few good bosses and a few worse than bad bosses. I was 7 years into my career when I realized that, under the boss that I had, there was no opportunity for innovation, growth, or career advancement. That was when I decided to start my own company. It was one of the most challenging things I have ever done but I’ve never been happier at work! It has led me to working with really good people on very interesting and important projects.  Check my LinkedIn profile for more information.

 


What activities do you enjoy outside of work?

I snowboard, camp, bike, hike and dance. I volunteer to lead stream clean ups.

 


What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?

Take technical writing training.  Work on your communication skills. Grow a thick skin. Everyone and anyone can teach you something.  Be open to any type of work to get experience – all work broadens your capabilities.

 


As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?

I can be an example for and encourage the young women in my life.


 

When I was in high school, I enjoyed…

Art

Drama

Industrial Arts / Shop Programs

Literature and English language arts

Math

Music

Physical Education / Health

Science

Technology

 

When I was in high school, I was someone who…

Always wanted to be outside

Played on a sports team

Enjoyed working with my hands

Was motivated by success

Liked being given specific instructions

Liked being given free range to explore my ideas

Engaged in volunteer activities

Felt at home in the outside, natural environment

Was really creative

Never wanted to be in the classroom

Always threw the best parties

Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades

Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do

Learned best “by doing”

Liked to take things apart to see how they worked

Liked to design or build things

Engaged in activities such as fishing, berry picking and hunting


 

ASTTBC thanks Let’s Talk Science for their partnership in developing this career profile.  Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.

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