A photo of Madison Allen

Meet Madison Allen: Environmental reclamation technician grad and environmentalist

Madison Allen

Current job: Environmental advisor and mapping lead with Action Land & Environmental Services Ltd.

Company Profile:

Action Land is a leading facilitator of land acquisition and environmental management services throughout Western Canada.

Summary of MHC education:

Environmental reclamation technician diploma

Q: Share some stories from your childhood. What experiences made you who you are today?

I am a person who doesn’t let challenges beat me. The biggest challenge I faced was schoolwork because I was dyslexic, but neither me nor my parents knew it. I struggled with remembering homework, and had a particularly hard time learning to read. When I reached grade 10 my mom, an elementary school teacher, attended a conference and went to a seminar on dyslexia which is when she realized that’s exactly what I had. Since then, we worked together and figured out how to train my brain to overcome its difficulties, and dysfunctions, to the point that I now love reading. 

Discovering my dyslexia was the first time I was faced with a roadblock between me and who I wanted to be. Overcoming and mastering it was when I learned that I’m not a quitter and that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Q: Can you explain what a "day in the life" looks like for you in your occupation?

There are many versions of what a "day in the life" is like with my job. The biggest difference in the type of day it will be, is whether I am in the office or out in the field.

Office day:

Typical tasks I complete include:

  • Report writing
  • Report editing
  • Environmental constraints mapping
  • Project location mapping
  • Plant identification
  • Project planning desktop assessments
  • Permit applications
  • Application to comply with regulations and legislation
  • Safety compliance
  • Preparation for field days

Field day:

A typical days has no defined start and end time, it depends on the project location and client requirements.

Tasks may include:

  • Transportation to the project locations
  • Land cover determination (cultivated, native prairie, tame pasture, etc)
  • Vegetation assessment and plant species listing
  • Soil characterizations
  • Wetland delineations
  • Assisting with wildlife surveys
  • Location planning for proposed developments based on the above listed features

Q: Why did you choose this career path? 

A lot of little steps lead me to choosing this career path. When I was in grade 10, I discovered I really like science and geography. When I was in grades 11 and 12, I realized I like helping the planet come back from damages and detriments humans have caused. 

When I graduated and started looking for what to do next, I found out what I wanted to do was called reclamation, and took the environmental reclamation technician program at Medicine Hat College (MHC) because it was exactly what I wanted. Since working in the field, I have learned there are so many fascinating areas of environmental science available to work in. 

I also have discovered that I am really good at, and really love, mapping and am hoping to progress in my career by getting further education in the area of geographic information systems (GIS). Though, the thing I love most about my career right now is the wonderful people I get to work with, and the incredible experiences I’ve had. With a job like mine, no two days are ever the same. I have gone to so many amazing places, and have been able to do so many fun things, thanks to the ever-changing essence of my job. 

Q: How did the environmental reclamation technician program at MHC prepare you for this career?

The program at MHC was perfectly tailored for the career I started to work in. The detailed courses set me up to understand, and succeed, as an environmental reclamation technician. From there, I was able to get started working and continue to learn the environmental field and potential areas I would like to specialize in now. 

Q: Can you explain what you liked most about your program?

My favorite part of the program was that it was so well aligned to the career I wanted to get into. It was a very well planned out and provided detailed training related to the tasks I would be working on daily.

Q: Would you recommend the environmental reclamation technician program to other students?

I would recommend the EREC program to anyone looking for a good starting place when getting into the environmental field. Starting with a two year program that covers a diversity of topics was very helpful to me, because it allowed me to get started in my career before committing to a more in-depth field of study.

Q: How did MHC impact your life?

When I moved, MHC became like a second home to me. It has been an important part of my life, which included my years in the EREC program, two summer jobs, continuing education and the other community activities. Even though I've graduated now, I still love coming back to visit and partake in community activities.

Q: What do you think makes MHC different from other schools?

MHC is a community. It's not just a place to go and learn, it's welcoming, and the people there put in the effort to make connections and really engage with the students on a personal level. The relationships I started, as a student at the college, have stayed with me and will continue to be an important part of my life and my career.

Q: What advice would you give a student who is looking to pursue the same type of career path?

Both education and experience are important. I don't have many years of education but I have more than five years of work experience and I've learned a lot on the job. Both parts are important to have a balanced understanding of the environmental field.

I would also recommend keeping your options open. The environmental science field is vast and there are many areas people can specialize in. It's good to get to know what areas you like best before committing and dedicating yourself to one of them.

Ready to discover your future?