By Jessica Sutton

Jessica-SuttonJessica Sutton is a 2nd-year University of Ottawa student in Environmental Studies and Biology. This fall, Jessica volunteered with the OFNC through the university’s Community Service Learning (CSL) program. The CSL program creates “placements” that link interested students with community organizations who will supervise a student’s 30 hours of volunteer work on a specified project over the course of a semester.

I really enjoyed my placement! As a student, I am constantly writing academic-style pieces and lengthy lab reports. Having the chance to do some writing that wasn’t so strict was really nice. I also had had no previous experience with WordPress or blog-writing in general, so it broadened my writing ability, too.

The events were especially fun. The Insect Workshop and Mushrooming were my favourites. Before my placement, I had looked at cross-sections of fungi and other various plant cells under the microscope during class labs, but that’s about it. The outings gave me a greater hands-on experience. I was able to meet like-minded individuals and get help from other volunteers or attendees. I was also able to help others with microscopes, etc.

At the events, I found that many people were interested in getting event summaries. I’ve seen posts on the Facebook page of members asking to be brought up to speed about what they missed. So, I certainly believe that the volunteer position is worthwhile, and it ensures a steady stream of posts for at least 5 OFNC events.

In addition to this, the volunteer experience is just that – great experience. I’ve found that in university, getting hands-on experience is difficult because the classes are so big, and only so many outings and other events can be organized to facilitate hundreds of students. Because of this, many students look for program-related volunteer or work experience. I especially liked the Community Service Learning placement because it is directly related to my program of study. It is also a chance to meet members of the community that work, or are interested, in various areas related to one’s program – making connections and networking are very important!

And yes, I’d like to stay in contact with the Ottawa Field Naturalists’ Club! I plan to try to find some more volunteer positions in various areas to test the waters a little bit. I will be attending events here and there and I don’t mind writing posts at all!

Jessica wrote the following posts for us. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as we did (OFNC Education and Publicity Committee).